One of the formative stories in frontrunning GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson’s life, a tale he’s told in no less than six of his books and trotted out again on the campaign trail this year, describes how, as a teen, he became so enraged that he stabbed another boy. In every version of the story, the boy’s metal belt buckle fortuitously saves him from Carson’s stabbity wrath. But, as the Daily Beast’s Gideon Resnick noticed when he compared Carson’s accounts, that’s the only detail that’s consistent across all of them.
In some of Carson’s books, the boy is a friend named Bob, and they have a fight over the radio. Sometimes Carson is listening to classical music, and Bob doesn’t like it. Sometimes it’s Bob’s radio, or they’re at Bob’s house. Other times, the victim is an unnamed boy who just comes along and won’t stop pestering Carson. The knife ranges in size from pocketknife to large camping knife. Sometimes Carson runs away after his blade breaks on the belt buckle, sometimes the other teen does.
The point of the story remains the same: Carson used to be an angry young man; now he’s a successful conservative internet meme and physician. And although Carson left the story out of his latest two books, he continues telling a version of it on the 2015 campaign trail.
And this is a little weird: When he tells the story in person, it’s so consistent it almost appears memorized, from “large camping knife” to “he fled in terror.”
Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher was actually writing about how incredibly rote the story had become, based on videos of Carson reciting it in 2002 and this year, when he saw Resnick’s piece about how erratic it was.
Addressing the inconsistencies in Carson’s written accounts of the oft-told story on CNBC Wednesday, Carson’s national press secretary, Deanna Bass, countered by pointing out how reliable the recited version has been: “When Dr. Carson talks about his temperament as a teenager, it’s a very consistent narrative and it actually happened.”
No one is seriously doubting Ben Carson when he says he tried to stab someone. The Daily Beast just wants to know “who Bob is and what role he played in Carson’s life” and Mediaite would like some clarification on “how Bob’s magical belt buckle stopped a large camping knife and destroyed it.”
Can a metal melt buckle break a steel knife? Really makes you wonder.