This week, CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviewed radio host Howard Stern about his insights into Donald Trump. Stern wondered aloud what would have happened if he agreed to endorse Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention. “Could you imagine if I was all in? I would be the head of the FCC, I could be on the Supreme Court; I think Donald would give me anything I asked,” Stern revealed. “If Ben Carson could get in there… I think Donald would have appointed me.”
Stern’s singling out of Carson as a prime example of Trump’s kakistocracy is accurate. Although he has earned respect as a brain surgeon, Carson was laughably unqualified when he became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in March 2017. Despite an office furniture scandal, he has held onto his Cabinet position for more than two years. That is certainly long enough to read “How to Be HUD Secretary for Dummies,” let alone write it. But this week Carson proved he still lacks a command of the basics.
At a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Tuesday, Rep. Katie Porter asked Carson about REOs, which stands for “real estate owned”, referring to properties that become owned by a lender due to foreclosure. Don’t be fooled by media reports claiming Rep. Porter was trying to humiliate Carson with a pop quiz of industry terminology. Porter brought up REOs to ask Carson to “explain the disparity in REO rates” when it comes to Federal Housing Administration loans. Before continuing, she then asked Carson to confirm he knows what she is talking about. Carson did not know and flippantly suggested she was talking about Oreos. He later followed up by sending a batch of Oreo cookies to Porter’s office, after tweeting “OH, REO! Thanks, @RepKatiePorter. Enjoying a few post-hearing snacks. Sending some your way!” Sorry, a United States Cabinet member’s proud ignorance is not a laughing matter.
People like to point out that a subject is not difficult by saying that “it’s not brain surgery.” Carson happens to be an accomplished brain surgeon who just can’t seem to understand housing policy, despite his long time in office and the vast resources he has available to him. His pathetic tenure should empower people of all professions to feel more confident with themselves and their achievements. The next time someone criticizes your abilities by saying, “It’s not brain surgery,” just say, “You’re right. It’s much harder.”