How Ben Carson's snoozy demeanor masks his bonkers views

How much does manner matter in how mainstream we think candidates are?

Dr. Ben Carson's calming persona conceal his outlandish ideas
(Image credit: REUTERS/Mark Kauzlarich)

Ben Carson is calm — calm like a cool spring breeze, or a long nap on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The Republican presidential hopeful speaks softly and slowly. He doesn't wave his arms about. He shows barely any emotion at all. But Ben Carson is also the possessor of ideas that are positively bonkers, not just about policy questions, but about the world and how it works.

This odd combination of a gentle manner and extremist ideas seems to be just what a healthy chunk of the Republican electorate is looking for. Carson is running a close second to Donald Trump nationally, and leading in Iowa. As The New York Times recently reported, Iowa voters in particular are enraptured with Carson's manner. "That smile and his soft voice makes people very comforted," said one farmer. "I believe someone as mild-mannered and gentlemanly as Ben Carson is just about the only kind of person that could" get things done in Washington, said another Iowan.

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