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Paging Dr. Ben: Not Presidential Material

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

World-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson commands a great deal of respect, and deservedly so.

Reared in abject poverty in the Detroit ghettoes, Carson learned how to live and thrive from his mother, including a work ethic, a reverence for Biblical authority and principle, and a can-do attitude which rejected blaming white prejudice for anyone’s lot in life, or societal problems.


Reading books and writing reports assigned by his mother (herself illiterate), Carson excelled in his studies, then his profession as a doctor, and wrote a number of books on faith and family.

His breakout moment on the conservative scene occurred at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. If that event did not crystallize how far this country has come in race relations, then I have no idea what will.

Just to recap: a white US Senator from Deep South Alabama, one of the reddest and whitest of states in the Union, introduced an African-American neurosurgeon, the top of his field, internationally recognized. The white politician sat down and listened to the black doctor. This professional was standing at a dais addressing a national venue in Washington DC, the same federal seat where blacks were frequently auctioned and sold to the highest bidder up to the American Civil War.

To Carson’s right, the first African-American president also sat and listened, right next to the Southern US Senator. This articulate neurosurgeon spoke out against political correctness and the harsh and dysfunctional, partisan gridlock in this nation’s capital. This scene is a far cry from 1857 Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney’s offensive, illiberal pronouncement in Dred Scott v. Sanford: “Negroes are a subordinate class of human beings with no rights a white man is bound to respect.”


This black man criticized President Obama’s policies at length in that prayer breakfast. While presidential staff demanded an apology afterwards, Americans across the country praised the good neurosurgeon. From the outset, many agreed with his conservative, Biblical views, particularly on the tithe as the fairest tax structure. Everyone pays the same rate, regardless of their wealth or status, and thus preempts the federal government from taxing one group to spend on another.

Regardless of his professional background or political views, however, I never jumped on the “Run, Carson, Run!” bandwagon. A little perspective explains why I believed, and why more people should accept, that Carson is not presidential material.

The year 2013 was a banner year of conservative angst and frustration, made worse by pandering GOP Senators pushing immigration “reform,” coupled with scandals cascading out of the White House, from Fast and Furious to IRS’ targeting conservative groups, and the officious secret waiting list in Veterans Administration hospitals all over the country. Conservatives were hungry for new leadership, and ready for anyone to replace the current Occupant in Chief in the White House.

Here came Dr. Ben Carson, speaking his mind, as well as healing minds, and people loved him. He appeared on talk shows all over the country, gave speeches at CPAC, and even wrote another book. When it comes down to policy as well as experience, there may not be a meeting of the minds between primary voters and the candidate.


In his latest exclusive interview on Fox News, Carson related his stellar personal history then meteoric celebrity from poor kid to skilled physician. Fox anchor Chris Wallace then reiterated the chief asset and criticism against Dr. Ben about a presidential bid: no prior political or government experience.

Carson waved that affront, citing work in private enterprise, scholarships, non-profits, and other charities. To his credit, presidential candidate Carson also announced this country’s need to rethink judicial review, which has permitted unelected judges to overrule sweeping cultural precedent, regardless of its harmful implications.

However, beyond inflammatory, his uninformed rhetoric should raise concerns about his viability. His previous appearances on Fox News have demonstrated his hesitancy to state clear differences with other minority activists, as well as a misunderstanding of the Constitution’s basic political framework.

Carson apparently supported an inner city assault weapons ban, then retracted the statement, affirming his support for the Second Amendment. As a medical professional, statistics must bear on his strategy for fighting violence, and gun control does not lead to crime control.

Carson has twice (rightly) criticized gay marriage and homosexual conduct, and yet twice bowed to pressure and apologized. Barbwire.com article pondered out loud: how badly did Carson cave to the militant homosexual lobby when he apologized for his remarks about prison behavior and its implications regarding the etiology of homosexual behavior? His sudden “I’m sorry” suggests he is either unprepared for or unwilling to fight leftist onslaughts.

Before his latest Fox News interview, Carson endorsed raising the federal minimum wage, stating that public assistance in many states usually paid more. He supports cutting subsidies to oil companies, only to dole them to ethanol plants. This confusion on fiscal issues hurts his chances. Ironically, Carson’s policy incoherence results precisely from his inexperience. This country needs tried and tested leadership, not on-the-job training. With all due respect to his inspiring life, career, and humanitarian accomplishments, Dr. Ben is not presidential material.

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