The Republican establishment’s collective delusion is that if The Donald exited the presidential race, the party’s adults would reclaim the limelight. In reality, the candidates trailing him are even worse.
The week began with apoplectic GOP talking heads eviscerating Trump for allowing a yahoo at a New Hampshire rally to attack all Muslims, as well as claim that President Obama is Muslim.
However, before the full weight of the party could land on The Donald’s head, the second place candidate, Ben Carson, out-Trumped Trump.
On MSNBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd asked Carson about Islam. “So do you believe Islam is consistent with the Constitution?” Todd inquired.
“No, I do not,” said Carson. “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”
Carson tried to clarify his remarks on Sean Hannity’s show, but only made matters worse.
“We do not put people at the leadership of our country whose faith might interfere with them carrying out the duties of the Constitution,” implying that any Muslim that would run for President was either a radical Islamist who supports Sharia Law or a “heretic” for rejecting extremism.
While Carson’s remarks further branded the GOP with the stain of bigotry and alienated, yet another, minority, at least the somnolent surgeon confirmed that he still had a pulse.
Just a week earlier, Carson managed to insult the African American community. On Fox’s MediaBuzz Carson told host Howard Kurtz that the GOP should court neglected” black voters. Carson thought that African Americans might be ready to leave the Democrats and not “just blindly follow someone because they say do what I tell you do to.”
Carson essentially called African American Democrats black sheep who follow the flock without thinking. The truth is, the rejection of the Republican Party comes from witnessing the prolific prejudice that has defined this campaign, as well as GOP voter suppression efforts. In terms of outreach to African Americans, the hyper-religious, long-shot candidates that the GOP has fielded for president – Alan Keyes, Herman Cain, and now Carson – has backfired and, if anything, further alienated black voters from the Republican Party.
The latest flavor of the week in the “anyone but Trump” sweepstakes is Carly Fiorina. For most of the campaign Fiorina has been practically invisible. The one time she briefly emerged was for the sacrilegious praise she once showered on both Islam and Hillary Clinton.
As the CEO of Hewlett-Packard in the aftermath of 911, Fiorina expressed concern for her Muslim staff members. She made sure that Islam wasn’t distorted and put the religion in historical perspective:
“There was once a civilization that was the greatest in the world. It was able to create a continental super-state that stretched from ocean to ocean, and from northern climes to tropics and deserts…its poets wrote of love, when others before them were too steeped in fear to think of such things…the civilization I’m talking about was the Islamic world from the year 800 to 1600.”
This raised the ire of former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann who Tweeted: “Carly Fiorina delivered this speech in MPLS praising Muslims 2 weeks after 911.”
To complicate Fiorina’s connection with the modern GOP voter, Mother Jones reported that in her 2006 book, Tough Choices, Fiorina described the soothing effect of listening to Muslim prayers when she was a teen and her family lived in Ghana. (Her father was a law professor then on a teaching sabbatical at the University of Ghana).
And there is the H-bomb, as in Hillary. In 2008 Fiorina gave an interview with BuzzFeed:
“I have great admiration for her (Hillary Clinton) because I know what it takes in some small measure to do what she has done. She is obviously incredibly intelligent, focused, tough, determined, empathetic of all the tens of millions of people that she was trying to represent in her quest to become the first woman president of the United States. Her run for the presidency was historic.”
Now that Fiorina is riding high on the hog, look for the struggling swine in the next GOP debate to use this information against her.
I salivate at the prospect of Fiorina receiving the GOP nomination. Her awful record at Hewlett Packard, which led to her getting canned, ensured that she was unable to defeat a vulnerable Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010 – losing by 10-points. There are now reports that staff she had laid off are lining up to appear in Democratic ads trashing her record at HP.
Trump, for all his flaws, is a far superior candidate to Carson and Fiorina. While the Donald may be a runaway locomotive, at least he’s not off track, like the rest of the GOP presidential wannabes.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”