Friday, November 06, 2015

Why Would You Lie About West Point?

Apparently, Ben Carson lied about being accepted to West Point:

Ben Carson’s campaign on Friday admitted, in a response to an inquiry from POLITICOthat a central point in his inspirational personal story was fabricated: his application and acceptance into the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 
The academy has occupied a central place in Carson’s tale for years. According to a story told in Carson’s book, “Gifted Hands,” the then-17 year old was introduced in 1969 to Gen. William Westmoreland, who had just ended his command of U.S. forces in Vietnam, and the two dined together. That meeting, according to Carson’s telling, was followed by a “full scholarship” to the military academy. 
West Point, however, has no record of Carson applying, much less being extended admission. 
“In 1969, those who would have completed the entire process would have received their acceptance letters from the Army Adjutant General,” said Theresa Brinkerhoff, a spokeswoman for the academy. She said West Point has no records that indicate Carson even began the application process. “If he chose to pursue (the application process), then we would have records indicating such,” she said. 
When presented with these facts, Carson’s campaign conceded the story was false.

I'll never understand why people do this. What's interesting is when they don't even understand the military academy application and acceptance process well enough to lie about it correctly.

As I recall the process, you first apply. If your application is accepted, you have to get an appointment. You can get these from Congressmen, Senators, or the President and Vice President.  Most people who lie about being admitted to a military academy leave out the appointment part; probably because they don't know about it.

In high school, I applied to West Point, the Chair Force Academy, and Annapolis. West Point and the Air Force pretty much told me to get bent. Annapolis told me to retake the SAT and reapply, which I interpreted as the same thing. I even had an appointment lined up; as I'd met with my representative who agreed to give me an appointment if I got accepted. I ended up not needing it. I didn't know about the Merchant Marine Academy at the time, and I'm not sure if I would have considered them if I did.

And there's really no sense in bragging about a "full scholarship" at a military academy. There really isn't a such thing. At a military academy, you become an employee of the military, with a service obligation following graduation. I think it's 5 years. It's not quite a scholarship. You're getting an education, sure, but it's more like exchanging 9 years of indentured servitude for education.

If you want a good first hand account of what a service academy is like, read John T. Reed's "Should I Go To, Or Stay At, West Point?"

I never seriously considered supporting Carson. I admire him, because he's actually done something productive in his life unlike the typical politician, who got into law, foundation or non-profit work, or academics.

I respect the fact that Carson came clean. When the typical politician is caught in a lie, they usually double down. I usually assume they're lying about everything.
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