Your trusty Salon reporter is boots-on-the-ground this morning in National Harbor, Maryland, for the first day of the Conservative political action conference. Yes, he is already humiliating himself in order get free t-shirts -- procuring enough conservative media swag is the important business of the day. But there are also speeches and stuff.
Dr. Ben Carson, who in his brief career in the conservative-industrial complex has proven adept at separating right-wingers from their money, gave the inaugural speech. Interesting factoid about Ben Carson: he's polling in second-place nationally for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Conservatives love him, even if they sometimes confuse him with the other Republican black guy.
Since Carson is going to be president in a couple of years, he was the first CPAC 2015 speaker to test out the exciting changes to this year's conference. Any speaker "who the media perceives as a presidential candidate" will have to field questions submitted to a CPAC moderator. We were promised, too, that these questions would take the speakers out of their comfort zones.
...Or not, if Carson's Q&A session was any indication. The CPAC hand asking the questions first admitted that she was new to this whole interviewing thing and didn't want to offend. What follow-ups she could muster largely consisted of calling Carson's answers great, clean, and concise. "Well, I'm a surgeon," he joked. Ha ha ha. Man, he'll never recover from this grilling.
Ben Carson was asked one good question that all of the media-perceived candidates should be asked: What is your specific plan to defeat ISIS? It would be wise, though, to have an experienced interviewer ask them this, because they will all try to dodge it, because they have no plan. What is Ben Carson's specific plan to defeat ISIS? It's to... tell the military to defeat ISIS!
"We have two choices," he said. "We can wait and see what they're going to do and react to it. Or we can destroy them first. The mission that I would give our military is to destroy them first."
Concise and clean, indeed! One follow-up question that might have been wise to ask, though, was could you actually give an answer to the question? Ben Carson has no idea how to DESTROY ISIS. Nor do I, nor does basically anyone, because ISIS is an amorphous blob of people spread across various countries. The right would like to pretend that this difficult problem is a simple matter of will: Obama just needs to give the military the latitude to do whatever it wants, and there will no longer be any ISIS. ISIS's continued existence, therefore, is purely Obama's fault. And isn't this convenient?