Dr. Ben Carson, who once referred to anti-housing discrimination laws as “communism,” has accepted Donald Trump’s nomination for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. In place of listing Carson’s qualifications for the job, which do not exist, Trump noted in a Facebook post that his nominee has a “brilliant mind” and grew up in an “inner city.”
Carson, a former neurosurgeon who has no experience in government apart from a failed presidential bid, initially turned down an offer to serve in Trump’s Cabinet on the basis that he has “never run a federal agency,” an extremely persuasive argument that ultimately did not deter anyone from allowing this to happen. “Ben Carson has a brilliant mind and is passionate about strengthening communities and families within those communities,” Trump’s Facebook announcement reads. “We have talked at length about my urban renewal agenda and our message of economic revival, very much including our inner cities.”
Other transcendent nuggets that have come out of Ben Carson’s “brilliant mind” include a made-up biography, the idea that Syrian refugees are like “rabid dogs,” and the inaccurate theory that the Egyptian pyramids, which are solid stone, were built by the Biblical character of Joseph to “store grain.”
In the announcement, Carson agreed that he wants to “strengthen communities,” although how he will do so remains a horrifying mystery:
“I am honored to accept the opportunity to serve our country in the Trump administration,” said Dr. Carson. “I feel that I can make a significant contribution particularly by strengthening communities that are most in need. We have much work to do in enhancing every aspect of our nation and ensuring that our nation’s housing needs are met.”
Carson may not be qualified for this job by any stretch of the rational imagination, but he is a black man who thinks poverty is a choice and housing discrimination is fine, which is certainly useful optics for a president-elect who has faced a federal lawsuit on the latter. From the New York Times, which notes that the budget of the agency Carson will oversee is $47 billion:
He has no expertise in housing policy, but he did spend part of his childhood in public housing, said a close friend, Armstrong Williams, and he was raised by a dauntless mother with a grammar-school education. In his autobiography he stressed that individual effort, not government programs, were the key to overcoming poverty.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees programs that provide vouchers and other rental assistance for five million low-income families, fights urban blight and helps struggling homeowners stave off foreclosures.