Gifted Hands, Ben Carson, and West Point
Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, is under scrutiny and attacks from political opponents for allegedly lying about an offer to West Point.
It all started on one night in 1969. 17-year-old Ben Carson was introduced to General Westmoreland, reports Carson in his autobiography Gifted Hands. After dining with the general, who has just ended his command of troops in Vietnam, he was offered a “full scholarship” to West Point. Carson, in favor of a career in medicine, turned down the offer.
This story, however, turned out to be far from the truth. West Point has no “full scholarships”, reports Politico in an article released on November 6th, and no records of Carson ever applying for one.
Carson has since attempted to defend his position. In a telephone interview with the New York Times, he stated that the general said informally, “with a record like yours, we could easily get you a scholarship to West Point”.
Vu Tran, a graduate from West Point, disagrees. “For those who have gone through the admission process and through the nomination process, they would never call it a scholarship.” said Tran in an interview with Politifact. Every cadet who is accepted to the prestigious academy receives room and board, as well as medical and dental care from the Army, so to call it a scholarship would be misleading.
In response to Ben Carson, Donald Trump, the Republican frontrunner for president, has released an Instagram video calling Carson a “pathological liar.”
“We don’t need either as president,” states the video.
It might be unknown whether this is an intentional lie from the retired neurosurgeon, or an accidental misuse of words that has been overdramatized by the media, but this incident has certainly impacted Carson’s presidential campaign. From scoring 21.6% in GOP polls collected from the Huffington Post on October 29th, support for Ben Carson has dropped to 13.9% (as of December 4th). In the meanwhile, support for Donald Trump has risen to 33.9%. Unless Carson, who is barely holding on to second place, can clean up his act and give GOP voters a reason to support him despite the incident, Carson will likely lose any chance at a Republican nomination.