This is what I feared: Barack Obama’s irresponsible and deluded belief that being elected President makes him the Authority In All Things—the belief that I have referred to as the result of a flat learning curve, would become a precedent luring future POTUSes into mischief. Sure enough, here is Ben Carson presuming to tell terrified people confronted by a mad gunman how to behave.
Ben Carson doesn’t have a clue how to be President, much less how to play hero. He has no relevant experience with either challenge, and this most recent silly statement, and it’s not his first, shows why Carson should stick to the operating room. I covered a lot of this issue here, pointing out that the theoretical, hindsight heroes who just knew they would have reacted better than Mike McQueary when he witnessed Jerry Sandusky apparently molesting a child in a Penn State gym shower are engaging in convenient self-glorifying fantasies.
Carson is just as bad. He has no idea how he would respond when threatened by a man with a gun until it happens to him. Even if he did have some wisdom to offer, and he clearly does not, this issue is not a legitimate topic for a presidential candidate to be offering guidance, any more than opining whether Yankee manager Joe Girardi should have benched Jacoby Ellsbury in last night’s AL Wild Card play-off game. This ridiculous idea that the President is a combination of Ann Landers, The Answer Man and Professor X diminishes the office and warps the public’s understanding of their government.
There are boundaries. The President has influence and power, and therefore has a duty to know where those boundaries are. Obama doesn’t because he’s a pathological narcissist without discipline or common sense, not because it’s what Presidents are supposed to do or have done in the past. By all means, Carson needs to study up and learn what the office he’s seeking entails. Obama is not the place to start.
He’s the worst conceivable role model.
27 thoughts on “Oh, Great: Ben Carson’s Model For How To Be President Is Barack Obama”
Other than claiming with certainty how one thinks they would behave in a dangerous situation, I don’t see anything wrong with exhorting people to bravery.
Certainly he should have said “I would hope, in that situation, I would have the clarity, audacity, and initiative to break out of the natural and understandable human reaction to terror to seek to stop the shooter before he kills more people.”
I think the key leadership flaw here is wording to not sound like one is casting judgment on those who didn’t act, since their inaction is fully understandable.
That is to say, he loses empathy points.
Still not his job. I can’t think of a similar example of after the fact advice from any President in a local matter, except from Obama, who is hopeless.
Didn’t Andrew Jackson weigh in after Goliad:
“Gee, Fannin shoulda followed Houston’s orders as soon as he got them”
One of the areas where I see a problem, Tex, is that people do not think before they speak anymore. I’ve got to admit, I’m not sure that they ever did, but effective speaking requires that moment for thought. What you say he should have said (and it is perfect) would have been excellent, but I think he felt like (and I would guess that taking a moment would mean he would get roasted for indecisiveness) he needed to respond immediately, with an off-the-cuff answer to an irrelevant question. I THINK I would have responded using training from Basic, AIT and Armored School, but I might also have responded from 30 + years as a psychologist. I donno.
And of course the only appropriate way to exhort people to bravery is not with a “this is what I would do”, but rather to see if anyone actually did engage in bravery (as we know some did in this instance) and extol them as examples.
I would buy that.
Exhorting people to bravery, sure. Exhorting specific people, many of them dead, to bravery in a specific situation? Presumptuous in the extreme.
Carson was merely stating what he would do….fight back rather than wait to be a victim….and we have three Americans aboard a train in France and Chris Mintz at the Oregon community college who did just that. We need more brave people like that, looking out for others…but instead we are being conditioned to be meek and wait for others to take action…and maybe we can capture it on our cell phones in the process.
Carson has no idea what he would do in that situation as he has never been in that situation. Everyone thinks they would be the hero until some pulls a gun and starts shooting people then your body’s fight or flight response kicks in and it has a real big say in what you do.
However, please note that ‘fight or flight’ does NOT include standing there meekly waiting for some dickhead to come along and put a bullet in our brains. Fight—or run—not just be a victim.
Freezing up is also something that happens to people in these situations. Fear is a strong emotion.
Yep. Always taught fight or flight, when research has always indicated that fight, flight, or freeze are the actual options.
Of course, teaching fight or flight to the exclusion of freeze may have the added effect *on the margins* of increasing the likelihood that individuals take some sort of action be it fight or flight.
Not his job, and there is no rule. If you can’t coordinate a mass rush, the solo rusher gets killed. On flight 93 they did coordinate, because they had the opportunity.
In 1989 I was camping on the Potomac River by Antietam MD when late at night as a bunch of us were sitting around the fire we heard some one yell
“He’s got a gun!”
I looked up to see a guy who had camped next to us> and that I had talked to earlier in the day and new to be a former Army Ranger, wrestling with someone .
Everyone in the camp ground , and I mean everyone as in around 50 people , took off running in the opposite direction.
I and my friend Hardy ran to help our neighbor subdue this person. The guy was quickly disarmed and we sent someone for the ranger.
From the time we heard the alarm to the guy with the gun being disarmed and subdued was a matter of seconds. Nor minutes but seconds. in a matter of seconds people had to make a decision on what to do. Most ran , and I don’t blame them. The former Army Ranger , myself and Hardy didn’t. I can understand why the Ranger didn’t and to some extent why I didn’t, I’m a former Marine, but my friend Hardy who had no military training or experience ran towards the conflict even before I could get out of my chair.
To this day I cant say “Oh I made a decision to run and fight, I wasn’t going to be a victim” I didn’t make any decision, I just did it. Just like the people who ran didn’t make a decision, they just ran.
People like Carson, and Mark Wahlberg with his idiotic statement about stopping one of the high jackings on 9/11 if he had been on the flight , insult those that were there by stating they wouldn’t have gone so quietly. They have no idea what they would do.
Truth is that soldiers train for months, and elite soldiers for years, to ensure that in a high threat situation their drills kick in and overcome all other instincts. Most of the rest of us don’t have that training to control the panic moment.
True but even those who are professionally trained who haven’t been in combat before don’t know what they are going to do when they do get on combat.
Cultural conditioning has a big influence on a person’s reactions. Those who go after a shooter are often those who have been trained to do that. I would expect people from Western states where people hunt and have been trained in gun safety and who are culturally conditioned to self-defense to go after a shooter more readily than Eastern academics. My generation in the West would be more likely to be proactive than Gen Xers. Teaching people to be passive victims is a bad cultural response when there are radicalized violent elements in the culture.
To the extent that a presidential candidate influences the culture to become proactive against terrorists and mass murders I think Carson’s stating that opinion is a good thing.
Spot on, Wyo. I have no idea what I would do, but closing my eyes and hoping for the best would PROBABLY not be seen as an option.
Does a presidential candidate have a right to express an opinion? I certainly hope so. There have been many instances of ordinary citizens showing bravery when their lives and the lives of others are threatened: One of the most striking for me was what happened on flight 93 on 9/11. Although the passengers were unsuccessful in saving their own lives, they prevented the plane from crashing into the Whitehouse.
Isn’t this what they teach the Marines? The Army is “Fall back and regroup” in an ambush and the Marine Corps is “Charge” when ambushed. Am I remembering that correctly?
Army doctrine is to evaluate the ambush IMMEDIATELY into 1 of 2 types:
Near Ambush or Far Ambush.
A near ambush is one in which you are within hand grenade range “(or for practical purposes, such a range that if the the enemy chose to maneuver against you they could be physically on you with no time for you to engage with direct fires).
A far ambush is one in which you are outside of that range.
It isn’t difficult to ascertain what range a unit is within during ambush.
Army doctrine for the decision at that point is:
1) For Near Ambushes, turn immediately to the ambushers and close the distance and engage them in the hand-to-hand combat range of fighting.*
2) For Far Ambushes, immediately take actions for the battle drill “React to Contact”: Which is find the nearest covered & concealed position, return fire with the objective to suppress and buy time / control of the engagement. From there the ambushed element can then decide if Attacking, Defending, or Displacing is the best option.
* This is considered preferable (though still a gruelling task) because within close range, if a unit chooses the simple “react to contact” drill, they will merely be pinned down and blown apart piecemeal with hand grenades or shot apart piecemeal as the enemy can maneuver against them while they are pinned down. Better to die taking some of them out and than to die laying down.
The italics are mine, as the doctrine I was taught was “hand grenade range”, though for practical purposes, I gleaned that the other bit was a practical consideration as well.
For statistical reasons, most ambushes will fall into the Far Ambush category, in which case a doctrine that says “charge into the bullets” is downright stupid, when there may be a more deliberate approach available.
Understand of course, that the distances involved apply to Dismounted Personnel…
The ranges change greatly when considering tanks being ambushed or armored personnel carriers being ambushed.
(and of the three options: Attack, Defend, or Displace – defend IS ONLY an option insomuch as it supports a greater attack elsewhere by another unit…we never defend except to buy time, it is NEVER a permanent option)
No you’re not. We were always told to advance into the ambush. Practiced it several times, in fact.
Well, some very effective Marine Generals, such as O.P. Smith in Korea used the “fall back and regroup” tactic very well along with General MacArthur in Bataan. To think you should always advance is truly stupid. Ask the Japanese survivors of banzai charges or consult the accounts of General Custer’s actions at the Little Big Horn.
Wayne, your examples are at the strategic level, not at the squad contact/ambush level which equates much more closely with the situation described.