National Journal’s Alex Seitz-Wald reported yesterday on the high visibility at CPAC of those who want Ben Carson to run for president. The Draft Ben Carson for President Committee has a booth in the exhibit area and the shuttle bus I rode between the suburban Maryland conference center and downtown D.C. was plastered with a large banner urging Carson to run.
Carson, an African American pediatric neurosurgeon, has had a fervent right-wing following since he used his appearance with President Obama at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast to denounce political correctness and suggest that the Bible supports a flat tax. (He made the same case as CPAC last year.) Carson appeals to anti-government conservatives by calling to phase out government poverty assistance and let churches and other charities deal with the fallout. And he appeals to Religious Right activists by claiming there is a "war on God" in America and by denouncing homosexuality and opposing same-sex marriage. He has claimed that the IRS has targeted his family and associates and says the Obama administration is like the Gestapo and wants to shut down Fox News.
The National Journal quotes committee director Vernon Robinson saying that if Carson can draw just 17 percent of the black vote, “the Roosevelt Democratic coalition is destroyed” and it will be impossible for Democrats to win the White House.
Robinson makes the same case in a direct mail piece I received this week. The mailer itself unfolds into a Ben Carson poster, and includes letters from Robinson and from the group’s “national chairman” John Philip Sousa IV. “I am convinced that no 2016 Republican ticket can win without Ben Carson on it,” writes Robinson. “Only Ben Carson can get enough black votes to keep the Democrats from winning the White House.”
Sousa’s letter says Carson is the only candidate who can defeat Hillary Clinton, heal America and unite Americans. “Don’t just sit back and let the Republican establishment pick the next GOP nominee!” Sousa urges, taking direct aim at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie:
Besides, do you really want a candidate for President who is just another big spending Republican like Christie? And, can you really trust Christie who was pro-abortion before he was pro-life to nominate pro-life judges to the U.S. Supreme Court?
The simple truth is that moderates like McCain and Christie are sure to lose, while conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Ben Carson are sure to win.
Seitz-Wald reports that the committee to draft Carson raised $2.83 million in its first six months of operation.
Earlier this week, a group calling itself the Black American Leadership Alliance (BALA) sent a letter to members of the Senate’s Gang of Eight and to members of the Congressional Black Caucus urging them to abandon immigration reform, claiming that reform would lead to “higher unemployment, more poverty, and a lower standard of living for many in the black community.”
BALA didn’t provide much information about itself in its press release…in fact, the group doesn’t seem to have existed until very recently (one indication is that it joined Facebook on May 13). The Anti-Defamation League reports that this is because BALA is just the latest incarnation of a shifting series of front groups for the anti-immigrant nativist group FAIR, which has been trying for years to drive a wedge between African Americans and Latinos. Until its recent name change, BALA was known as the African American Leadership Council (AALC), which itself, according to our friends at the Center for a New Community, was “simply a redressing of FAIR’s old front group, Choose Black America.”
In fact, the Center for a New Community notes, BALA seems to be running entirely through another FAIR front group, one of many stemming from white nationalist John Tanton, misleadingly called “Progressives for Immigration Reform” (PFIR). In a fact sheet on PFIR [pdf], the Center notes, “PFIR emblazons its public image with symbols and rhetoric that profess support for environmental causes. But under this veneer, PFIR faults the ills of American society on ‘mass migration,’ and in fact, immigrants in general—sharing more with the bigotry of the far-right than any ‘progressive’ cause.”
A look at the twelve signers of BALA’s letter gives a clear picture of the new group. Of the twelve signers, two are longtime anti-immigrant activists entrenched in the Tanton network – including groups like PFIR, FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies– and four are vocal conservative extremists who have appeared on these pages before:
Frank Morris, who identifies himself as a former director of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. But these days, Morris is tied up in a number of Tanton-connected anti-immigrant groups, including sitting on the boards of FAIR and the Center for Immigration Studies and serving as the vice president of PFIR.
Leah V. Durant, who left her position as a staff attorney at FAIR’s Immigration Reform Law Institute [pdf], which writes anti-immigrant laws, to become the executive director of PFIR when it launched in 2008 [pdf].
Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson, a columnist and talk show host who:
Complains society is being run by “women who look like men, act worse than men, and who have essentially sacrificed their womanhood at the alter [sic] of ‘achievement.’”
In case it’s not clear, he’s really not a fan of the women’s movement: “There is a war against beautiful women, and it’s being waged by the Women’s Movement, ironically….Let’s face it, the women who rise through the ranks in Leftist politics look like dudes. In fact, if you put high-ranking female political Plutopians against their “male” counterparts, it would be the CHICKS WITH…well…CUPS, and I’m not talking bras. ….Women on the Left secretly wish to build a society of powerful ugly women…to match how they feel (and are) inside. A beautiful Liberal woman (not that I’ve ever seen one) might as well be fitted for knee pads and given Bill Clinton’s ‘How to Pleasure a President While On Your Knees Under a Desk” manual and a box of Cuban cigars.’