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And a former thug. Grr.


Ben Carson is so angry at CNN he almost seems fully awake at times. He's really cheesed off over the network's attempt to investigate claims he made in his book, Gifted Hands, about having been a violent, rage-filled youth before finding Jesus and calming the fuck down. In a report published Thursday, CNN wasn't able to track down anyone who knew him at the time who could corroborate stories of his supposed life as an out-of-control thug who was headed for trouble:

The violent episodes he has detailed in his book, in public statements and in interviews, include punching a classmate in the face with his hand wrapped around a lock, leaving a bloody three-inch gash in the boy's forehead; attempting to attack his own mother with a hammer following an argument over clothes; hurling a large rock at a boy, which broke the youth's glasses and smashed his nose; and, finally, thrusting a knife at the belly of his friend with such force that the blade snapped when it luckily struck a belt buckle covered by the boy's clothes.

"I was trying to kill somebody," Carson said, describing the incident -- which he has said occurred at age 14 in ninth grade -- during a September forum at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Problem is, pretty much everybody they talked to said he was kind of a sweet nebbishy kid who never blew up in fits of rage. While nobody said he had to be fibbing about all the scenes that sounded like excerpts from A Clockwork Orange, they also didn't remember anything of the kind. Some were skeptical but acknowledged that maybe stuff happened that they didn't witness. Also, nobody could recall Carson ever trying to store grain in a pyramid, either.

Carson's supposedly violent youth has been a key part of his life story, since of course without being a budding sociopath, his narrative of having a religious epiphany after trying to kill a friend when they disagreed about music isn't nearly as impressive a turnaround. Nobody's going to be all that inspired by "I occasionally looked at girls with lust in my heart but then Jesus told me to stop feeling happy in my swimsuit area," after all. It sounds so much better with all the drama:

Crying, and praying to God for deliverance, Carson found his answer when he picked up a Bible and opened it to the book of Proverbs and a passage on the importance of controlling one's temper.

Carson writes in his book that he spoke directly to God in that moment: "Lord, despite what all the experts tell me, You can change me. You can free me forever from this destructive personality trait."

In an interview on CNN's "New Day" Friday, Carson insisted he had too been a violent thug:

This is a bunch of lies attempting to say I'm lying about my history, I think it's pathetic, and basically what the media does is they try to get you distracted with all of this stuff so that you don't talk about the things that are important ... I'm not proud of the fact that I had these rage episodes, but I am proud of the fact that I was able to get over them.

Carson also accused the Liberal Media of being much more skeptical of him than of Barack Obama in 2008, because as everyone on the right knows, nobody ever asked a single difficult question about his background ever:

"The vetting that you all did with President Obama doesn't even come close, doesn't even come close to what you guys are trying to do in my case, and you're just going to keep going back, 'He said this 12 years ago' -- it is just garbage," Carson said. "Give me a break."

In a Fox News interview with Megyn Kelly Thursday, Carson acknowledged he had in fact fictionalized some elements of his book, admitting he'd changed names without explicitly saying he'd done so in the text. He also said "Bob," the person he supposedly tried to stab, was actually a family member, not a friend:

"The person that I tried to stab I talked to today, said would they want to be revealed. They were not anxious to be revealed," he said. "It was a close relative of mine and I didn't want to put their lives under the spotlight."

Carson asserted that his recollection of those youthful outbursts of violence was still "absolutely true" and dismissed CNN's article as a "smear."

"Do you think I'm a pathological liar, like CNN does, or do you think I'm an honest person?" Carson said. "I'm going to leave it up to the American people to make that decision."

All we can think of is what a great campaign commercial that line's going to make.

The important thing to remember when you listen to Ben Carson's inspiring life story is that, even if a few details of his thuggish youth are off, he is nevertheless batshit crazy and completely unqualified to be president. As to whether he's truthful, we have to fall back on the old line (maybe by Will Rogers, but probably not) Walter Mondale repurposed to describe Ronald Reagan: "It's not what he doesn't know that bothers me, it's what he knows for sure that just ain't so." Take, for instance, this 2-minute fact check of Carson's ridiculous claim that it's perfectly fine that he has no political experience, because "Every signer of the Declaration of Independence had no elected office experience."

Even so, we're glad Carson has at least clarified the identity of "Bob." We are now far less likely to suspect that he killed Laura Palmer.

[CNN / CNN again / TPM / NYT / MSNBC]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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