May 21, 2019

Every day I wonder if I've woken up in a bad Chevy Chase movie. I know, I know. "Bad Chevy Chase movie" is redundant. But the script today couldn't have been more ludicrous.

Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) had the misfortune of having to interact with HUD Secretary and sentient puddle of slug waste, Ben Carson during a hearing today. He displayed the lack of intellect so different from the one that made him famous and rich, and a hero in these parts as a ground-breaking brain surgeon. That guy is so lost to Trumpism and so thoroughly determined to celebrate ignorance, anyone who used to look up to him must feel so betrayed. He used to be absolutely revered in the Black community, and he was the keynote speaker at my Hopkins Freshman Class' convocation ceremony. I remember being so inspired. What a towering intellect, we all thought. What power must reside in his heart and mind to overcome poverty and racism to rise to the top of that impossibly elite field of brain surgery at the foremost medical institution in the world, Johns Hopkins Hospital. And now?

Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, showed up completely unprepared and uninterested in the Congressional hearing about low-income housing for which he surely had plenty of time to prepare. And when Rep. Katie Porter asked him a question about REOs, and then if he knew what they were, he claimed to think she was asking him about Oreos. The cookies.

Now, either (1) he truly did not know that REO stood for "Real Estate Owned," (2) he did know, but just decided to feign ignorance to stonewall the proceedings — there's a lot of that going around Trump's administration, if you haven't noticed, or (3) he did know, and he was trying to be cheeky in a situation that required seriousness, professionalism, and compassion. None of these options is acceptable. Not ONE.

To her great credit (and no one's surprise,) Rep. Porter maintained her composure and professionalism and explained the term to Carson, then continued on with her questioning. But instead of apologizing for his amazing lack of knowledge and preparedness, he made things worse by trolling her on Twitter about it.

Twitter has not been kind to the Secretary.


He chose to refuse to learn what OMWI meant, confusing it with Amway, to avoid having to answer a question about the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion he's supposed to know all about since it's in his department.

It's one thing to be truly, legitimately daft. It's another to be intentionally obstructionist. What is so beyond galling is the contempt with which this once revered intellect seems to view basic knowledge of his own job, and those who demand he have it. What is so insulting is the delight he displays in making terrible, unfunny jokes as he slouches like an 8-year-old schoolboy in his seat looking up at those with oversight authority, thinking he's gonna be able to cute his way out of it, if indeed that is what he is doing.

If he is simply that genuinely incompetent, we should thank our lucky stars he doesn't put his hands in peoples' brains for a living anymore.

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