He Wears the Mask-Ben Carson’s rise to fame —NYT
The plantation metaphor refers to a popular theory on the right. It holds that the 95 percent of African-Americans who voted for a Democratic president are not normal Americans voting their beliefs, but slaves. A corollary to the plantation theory is the legend of the Conservative Black Hope, a lonesome outsider, willing to stare down the party of Obamacare and stand up for the party of voter ID. Does it matter that this abolitionist truth-teller serves at the leisure of an audience that is overwhelmingly white? Not really. Blacks are brainwashed slaves; you can’t expect them to know what’s in their interest.
Benjamin Carson is that Conservative Black Hope of the moment. His rise began with a meandering speech that mixed policy, humor and victimization in February at the National Prayer Breakfast, mere feet from the president of the United States, who was forced to take his medicine in a way that Clint Eastwood could only dream of. When Sean Hannity interviewed Carson about his speech he dispensed with the policy and simply dubbed the segment “Lecturing Obama.”
Since the dawn of the Obama era, conservatives have been on the lookout for such a man. In 2004 they dispatched Alan Keyes cross-country to take up the mantle of the Conservative Black Hope and deliver an early knockout to Obama. Keyes had never lived in Illinois and his voters barely knew him, and voted accordingly. But it did not matter who he was. What mattered was their plan.
“We needed to find another Harvard-educated African-American who had some experience on the national political scene,” said Steven J. Rauschenberger, a Republican who was then a member of the Illinois State Senate. “We need that because the Democrats have made an icon out of Barack Obama.”
Having seen their icon thrashed in 2004, in 2009 conservatives looked to Michael Steele, the first African-American to head the Republican National Convention, to face off with the first black president. But Steele had an on-again off-again relationship with the party line, and was thus ill suited to be a Conservative Black Hope, even if the hip-hop Republican often talked like one.
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