You might remember Shaggy’s hit song, “It Wasn’t Me.” The chorus goes like this:
But she caught me on the counter (It wasn’t me)
Saw me bangin’ on the sofa (It wasn’t me)]
I even had her in the shower (It wasn’t me)
She even caught me on camera (It wasn’t me)
I thought of the song when I heard Ben Carson inidignantly deny during Wednesday’s debate that he was involved with a company called Mannatech.
Mannatech is one of those companies that promise cures for such ills as cancer, multiple sclerosis, AIDS and autism. The company paid a $7 million settlement a few years ago when the Texas attorney general sued over its bogus claims. On Wednesday, CNBC moderator Carl Quintanilla queried Carson over his decade-long connection with the company, a conection that continued even after the settlement.
Carson’s response? It wasn’t him.
“That is total propaganda,” he said. “I did a couple speeches for them, I do speeches for other people, they were paid speeches. It is absolutely absurd to say that I had any kind of relationship with them.”
Really? That wasn’t you in that promotional video, Ben? The one where you claim that Mannatech’s “glyconutritional supplements,” cured your prostate cancer symptoms? That wasn’t your face on the company’s web site up to last year (photo above), and in those web site videos until the Wall Street Journal mentioned them?
But I’m sure Ben Carson doesn’t care what I think. His supporters will certainly believe him, not bloggers like me, not the Wall Street Journal or anyone else. That’s the way the Republican base is.
And that’s why the Republican candidates can get away with – as New York Times columnist Paul Krugman put it – embracing a “grifter ethos.”
The Nobel Prize winning economist is not talking about the distortions, bogus math and outright lies that spew from the campaigns. He is talking about political involvement as a way of making money.
Citing historian Rick Perlstein’s reference to a “strategic alliance of snake-oil vendors and conservative true believers,” which “goes back half a century,” Krugman explains:
Direct-mail marketing using addresses culled from political campaigns has given way to email, but the game remains the same.
He refers to such ruses as predicting economic doom as a way to promote gold sales, as well as the sale of books and videos on surviving the predicted collapse. He notes that Ted Cruz, for example, is backed by gold salesman Glenn Beck and is urging the American government to return to the gold standard.
The current crop of anti-establishment “conservatives” has apparently found even more opportunities for gaming the system.
Krugman notes that a recent New York Times investigation revealed flagrant abuse by some conservative PACs. According to the investigation, the bulk of the money raised by those PACs “ends up going to cover administrative costs and consultants’ fees, very little to their ostensible purpose.”
But so what if the hucksters are exposed? The Republican base has been brainwashed to disbelieve anything they see, hear or read unless it comes from their own propaganda machine. As Krugman observes:
You might think that such revelations would be politically devastating. But the targets of such schemes know, just know, that the liberal mainstream media can’t be trusted, that when it reports negative stories about conservative heroes it’s just out to suppress people who are telling the real truth. It’s a closed information loop, and can’t be broken…
And the flock meekly gathers, waiting to be fleeced. But the rest of us don’t have to buy the snake oil, do we?