CLEVELAND—Right now, thousands of giddy Republicans and bedraggled journalists are making their way out of town. A little while ago, I found myself in the TSA security line behind Ben Carson, where I had the chance to ask him the question that’s been on my mind since his speech on Tuesday, when he said, apropos of Hillary Clinton, “Are we willing to elect as president somebody who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer?” I wanted to know: What is the connection between Clinton and the devil?
Carson thought this was an unfair question. He had merely said that Clinton was influenced by someone, Saul Alinsky, who praised Lucifer. (In an epigraph to his 1971 book Rules for Radicals, Alinsky described Lucifer as “the first radical known to man.”) The liberal media, Carson said, had twisted it to suggest that he’d called Clinton a devil-worshipper. But why, I asked, did he bring up Lucifer at all? Yes, Clinton wrote her senior thesis at Wellesley about Alinsky. But what’s the significance of a 45-year-old dedication on a book by someone Clinton admired in college? “If she admires somebody like that, that should tell you a lot,” he said. “My hope is that people will look up Saul Alinsky and read his book so that they know for themselves and don’t have to have somebody give them propaganda.”
What, I asked Carson, makes him think Clinton’s been influenced by the famed left-wing organizer since graduation? “Read the book. You’ll see exactly what I’m talking about,” he said. In what sense? “I’m not going to tell you. You’re going to have to read it yourself. That’s my whole plan. I want people to read for themselves. That’s part of our problem. We’re so ignorant, we have no idea what’s going on.” You could take that last line as an expression of self-awareness, but I don’t think he meant it that way.
Previously in Slate: Come on, Ben Carson. Lucifer Is Totally a Republican.