Ben Carson’s Webster Problem Solved

Over the last seven days Dr. Ben Carson has been going around on various media and endorsing something he claimed Daniel Webster said in support of Carson’s rather robust interpretation of the Second Amendment. Fact checkers quickly discerned that the Webster he must have had in mind was Noah Webster, he of the dictionary fame, who expressed himself in just such a way in an 1787 pamphlet.

If only that were the end of the story.

You see, Dr. Carson’s just come out with a little book offering his interpretation of the Constitution. Entitled A More Perfect Union: What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties, it’s a concise commentary on his understanding of America’s foundational document. I happened to come across a copy today, and as I suspected that his comments during the past week were motivated in part by a desire to push his book, I took a look at the index.

In his book Dr. Carson makes reference to both Noah and Daniel Webster (within a few pages of each other, no less). Moreover, in his book (as opposed to the interviews), he correctly attributes the quote in question to Noah Webster. He then quotes a remark Daniel Webster offered on June 1, 1837, that several political websites have picked up. That Webster was no libertarian is besides the point.

Here’s the Daniel Webster quote:

I apprehend no danger to our country from a foreign foe. The prospect of a war with any powerful nation is too remote to be a matter of calculation. Besides, there is no nation on earth powerful enough to accomplish our overthrow. Our destruction, should it come at all, will be from another quarter. From the inattention of the people to the concerns of their government — from their carelessness and negligence — I must confess that I do apprehend some danger. I fear that they may place too implicit a confidence in their public servants, and fail properly to scrutinize their conduct, — that in this way they may be made the dupes of designing men, and become the instruments of their own undoing. Make them intelligent, and they will be vigilant — give them the means of detecting the wrong, and they will apply the remedy.

And there you have it. Dr. Carson got wrong in interviews what he had right in his book, although it’s clear that the quote in question was a talking point for him. Now Noah and Daniel Webster can both take a bow. 🙂


11 thoughts on “Ben Carson’s Webster Problem Solved

  1. OhioGuy October 12, 2015 / 9:33 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, and the due diligence, Brooks. You might send this information to the Carson campaign. I’m sure that they would appreciate it. I suspect it was simply a matter of a slip in his memory. I know I’ve made mistakes like that where I wrote something correctly when I had the source material right in front of me and then slightly miss-remembered it when i later quoted what I had written from memory. It doesn’t happen often, but I have experienced the same thing, so I can be sympathetic. As I said on deadconfederates, I’ve had great respect for Dr. Carson since I first became acquainted with him several decades ago when we were both active in the Christian Medical Association.

    • Mark October 13, 2015 / 12:52 pm

      >> I know I’ve made mistakes like that where I wrote something correctly when I had the source material right in front of me …

      We all have. I’m a tradesman and it is so common for people and myself to rely on my memory instead of my own documentation, and wish I hadn’t. That’s why this is a non-issue.

      Yet even though it’s a non-issue, notice the snark in Brooks’ quote that “Dr. Carson got wrong in interviews what he had right in his book, although it’s clear that the quote in question was a talking point for him.” As if he doesn’t have the same issue like everyone else.

      The Libs are in full-blown smear-Carson mode. I’m skeptical of his chances to be president because of his lack of executive experience. The Libs don’t think he has a chance either. But he’s their worst nightmare. A black Republican who is a brain surgeon (and thus harder to lampoon as dumb), kind and widely admired by blacks.

      • Brooks D. Simpson October 13, 2015 / 2:27 pm

        I’m sure you find snark in everything with which you disagree. As for Dr. Carson’s reputation, he’s done a very good job of telling people what he thinks, and his candor is refreshing. I recall a lot of liberals being pleased by Colin Powell, so the notion of a black Republican as a liberal’s worst nightmare is one of those fantasies I just wrote about.

        It was Dr. Carson who attributed the talking point to Daniel Webster rather frequently lately. I’ve explained his confusion, even as others have charged him with ignorance. That you see this as an attack on him strikes me as curious. One wonders why you don’t think Carson deserves the same sort of scrutiny applied to other people when they make mistakes.

        When Dr. Carson invokes historical examples, he invites scrutiny. I assume he can handle it. Maybe you don’t agree. Why?

        That this comment on “libs” comes on the same day that I post something critical of Howard Zinn makes me smile.

        • Mark October 13, 2015 / 5:58 pm

          Fine. It’s not snarky then. But it seems petty at the least to make something out of nothing, especially when we all forget things. I’ll defend even a staunch enemy against pettiness. It’s ironic you say that I think Carson can’t handle scrutiny ever “historical examples”, since I can’t see that you offered any historical criticism whatever.

          Even aside from memory issues, it seems doubly a non-issue and weird because whatever you or I think about the 2nd amendment, or guns, society, or anything, I think the Founding fathers were pretty much of like mind with Noah Webster over the reason for the 2nd amendment. If not, it would be interesting to learn about the outliers. Maybe I’m wrong. I’d like to know. All to say, I’m the only one that offered any analysis of whether or not Daniel Webster’s Bunker Hill speech could be used to support Carson’s view of the 2nd amendment in any case. You didn’t seem to think it an interesting enough to comment on, and neither did anyone else. So call me nonplussed by your assertion that I think Carson needs defending from scrutiny over “historical examples”. If only.

          • Brooks D. Simpson October 13, 2015 / 6:21 pm

            There was quite a buzz over Carson’s comments in various corners of the internet, especially when no one could find a Daniel Webster quote that fit his claim, and I went to find out what he said and what he meant. Apparently you find that objectionable practice for a historian when it concerns someone you like.

            If I wanted to target Carson, I might have chosen comments reflecting his understanding of history where he’s given his opponents red meat.

            No, I don’t think your analysis of the Bumber Hill speech is pertinent, because that was not Carson’s point of reference. Just as you are not obliged to comment on every post that appears here, I’m not obliged to respond to every comment. If that makes you upset, then please follow Connie Chastain’s example and start up your own blog to attack me and other commenters here.

            Your candidate made a mistake. The confusion’s been cleared up. You are now sounding like the heritage folks who could not let go of the fact that they called their heroes “heros.” Learn from their mistake and let it go.

        • Mark October 13, 2015 / 8:57 pm

          Well, you posted a block of text from Daniel Webster, and asked:

          “You now have the text before you, and so here’s an opportunity to fact-check a presidential candidate. What did Webster say? Does Carson represent his sentiments accurately?”

          I did just that, and now your citing “internet buzz” and my supposed feelings about Carson. When you said it was a “fact check” I thought it was tongue in cheek. I assumed you thought it would be an interesting question in its own right. My mistake. BTW, I’m a Rubio guy. 🙂

          • Brooks D. Simpson October 13, 2015 / 9:08 pm

            And, again, you’re wrong. But that’s okay.

  2. Ken Noe October 13, 2015 / 8:36 am

    Hmmm, June 1837. I’m sure Webster was thinking about 2016, and not trying to blame the newly Democrat in the White House and his party for the suddenly collapsing economy.

  3. OhioGuy October 13, 2015 / 6:49 pm

    For the record Brooks, I don’t think you were being snarky at all. I thought you had a very restrained and reasoned approach to analyzing what Carson said and then were diligent in finding precisely where the error occurred. Full disclosure: I have been donating to the Carson campaign and had previously donated to the Draft Carson campaign that was launched by John Phillip Sousa IV over a year ago. Yes he really is a direct descendant of the famous Marine Corps Band.

  4. OhioGuy October 13, 2015 / 6:58 pm

    . . . Marine Corps Band director.

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