With signs in the hall saying "Carson 2016" and "Run Ben, Run," Dr. Ben Carson doubled down on some of his most controversial statements in a speech Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland.
And he fired up the partisan audience with talk of "the media," "the left" and "PC police" trying to "shut" him up.
Going on the attack early over what he labeled "political correctness" attacks on him, Carson drew cheers from the crowd when he said, "I hate PC, and I will continue to defy the PC police who have tried in many cases to shut me up."
Referring to a statement he made comparing same sex marriage to bestiality, Carson said, "I still believe marriage is between a man and woman."
The statement to which he referred Saturday was made in March on Fox News where Carson is now employed.
In an interview with Sean Hannity, the former Johns Hopkins surgeon said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman. No group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn't matter what they are. They don't get to change the definition."
The comparison of gays to members of the North American Boy/Man Love Association and those who engage in bestiality set off a backlash of criticism in the media, online and on campus.
Saturday, he called critics and members of the media who claim he compared same sex marriage to bestiality "dummies."
"Because I said nobody gets to change the definition or marriage, and because I happened to mention some categories, they said, 'Carson said gay marriage and bestiality are the same thing,'" he told the CPAC crowd.
"Well, that's preposterous. Anybody who believes that is a dummy. But anybody who believes somebody who says somebody said that is also a dummy.
"Of course, gay people should have the same rights as everyone else," he continued. "But they don't get extra rights. They don't get to re-define marriage."
I don't know which was more disingenuous, Carson Saturday trying to blame the "PC police" and the "media" for allegedly twisting his words – or Carson "apologizing" for his "choice of words" in March in an interview with me after the "bestiality" comments led to a tremendous backlash, including a petition by Johns Hopkins medical school graduates that he not be allowed to speak at graduation. (He did not speak at that graduation.)
If his words were twisted, why did he apologize for them in the Sun interview? Was it a phony apology then? Or, is he now thinking he can re-write history at CPAC with a bit of bravado, bluster and dishonesty?
Carson consistently conflated "the left" with "the media" and the "PC police." I wonder how taking a paycheck from Fox News is not being a member of "the media" on his part.
Carson also addressed a second controversial statement that got him in big trouble when he compared the Affordable Healthcare Act, often called Obamacare, to slavery.
"And then, I said, Obamacare was the worst thing since slavery," he told the CPAC crowd.
"Of course, they said, 'Carson says Obamacare and slavery are the same thing,'" he continued allegedly quoting the trio of enemies he referred to as "they" throughout the speech.
"Of course, they're not the same thing. Slavery was much worse. But bear in mind what happens with Obamacare. We, the American people, with that program have shifted the power that was given to us by the Constitution and the Founders to the government. That's the most massive shift in power in American that has ever occurred."
Yes, there he goes again with one of those off-the-wall, absolute statements about history that is so easy to attack. Remember the quote he attributed to Vladimir Lenin -- a quote no one else in the world could ever find Lenin making?
But on the "most massive shift" remark, how about women getting the right to vote? You think that might have been a pretty big "shift in power," too? I can think of a dozen others. Being a neurosurgeon doesn't make you a historian.
"And then," Carson continued, trying to rewrite another of his outrageous statements, "I said in Nazi Germany that most of the people did not agree with what Hitler was doing, but did they speak up?"
I am not even going to deal with how he tried to spin this crazy statement.
But here's a guy who conservatives are waving banners for as the GOP presidential candidate in 2016 and he's got to try and explain away statements on bestiality, slavery, Hitler and Nazi Germany. This is Glenn Beck Country he's traveling in, isn't it?
What does it say about Carson's mind that he is drawing comparisons and metaphors from these realms? Check out "Metaphors We Live By" by cognitive linguist George Lakoff if you want to know what I think it says.
Carson told the audience that he's having a great time and finding much love as he goes around the country. And there is much talk about him coming out of this convention as a GOP candidate.
He finished third in the CPAC straw poll with 9 percent of the vote, trailing Rand Paul's 31 percent and Ted Cruz, who had 11 percent.
But there's a saying in politics, "If you're explaining, you're losing."
And Carson spent most of his speech Saturday trying to explain away controversial, outlandish and crazy things he has been saying since his retirement from John Hopkins.