From the very beginning, Ben Carson has been discounted by the political pundits. As others in this crowded GOP field went up and down in the early polls, they watched in disbelief at how the support of a mild-mannered doctor who had never held political office, remained steady and began to climb. After a so-so, if not poor performance in last debate, the chattering class wrote him off, but his polling numbers continued to climb.
When, Dr. Carson pulled even with Donald Trump in the latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, the story is not Carson’s rise but Trump’s fall. If Carson is mentioned at all by these know-it-alls, they just roll their eyes.
What some do not realize, and many are just discovering, is that Dr. Ben Carson is no stranger to politics. He has been discussing the problems of this country and reminding us of what made America great for years. More importantly, he has a good grasp on what it will take to reestablish that greatness. “America the Beautiful,” “One Vote,” “One Nation” (which came out at the same time and outsold Hillary Clinton’s “Hard Choices”) and “A More Perfect Union” gives us insight into his political philosophy as well as his prescriptions for the country. “Gifted Hands” (his autography that was made into a movie), “Think Big,” “Take the Risk,” and “The Big Picture” will give you insights into his life and his faith.
Ben Carson was not an “okay doctor,” who hired a “couple of nurses.” He was the most celebrated pediatric neurosurgeon in the world. At 33, he became the youngest major division director in history at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Medical Center where he often directed several medical teams from different specialties in order to perform his groundbreaking surgeries.
If you think dealing with the egos on Capitol Hill will be a problem, consider the egos of the doctors at the top of their game in heart and brain surgery that he dealt with in the course of his work. Solving complex problems on life and death issues involved teamwork. It also involved selecting the best of the best, sifting through tons of information and making the “right” decisions.
These are the very same qualifications that are required by the nation’s chief executive. Unfortunately, the current occupant of the White House has none of them. It also involves courage.
Some are surprised that Dr. Carson has doubled down on his assessment of Muslims and Sharia law. Don’t be. Sunday, on ABC’s “This Week,” he took Martha Raddatz to school and, yes, left her speechless. After that performance, one can assume Dr. Carson, who is a quick study, has been learning how to cram a lot of facts into a 30-second sound bite and will be ready to strut his stuff in the next GOP debate.
While ignored as a serious contender by the pundits, he is not ignored by the GOP base. What is disappointing to me is that some of his harshest critics have come from the right. He was invited to speak to a Southern Baptist pastors’ conference and then disinvited when it was discovered he is, horrors, a Seven Day Adventist.
He has been roundly criticized by some of my colleagues for his conciliatory comments toward civil rights activists and members of other religions. As a leader, Dr. Carson is skilled at bringing people together and getting people to listen to him, not by finding fault, but by trying to establish common ground.
He was also criticized for this Easter post on Facebook: “Let us remember that Jews, Christians and Muslims all believe in God, and while there are ideological differences in who Jesus was, we should find peace in the fact that we are all God’s children.”
That was not a theological statement.
Face it. There are only two value systems at work in the world today: That of those who believe in a Creator God where there are moral absolutes and that of secular humanism — those who believe we are the product of matter, energy and chance where they are free to make up the rules as they go along.
There are extremists in every religion and Islam has more than its share. Dr. Carson is not shy about calling out these Muslims and those who adhere to Sharia law.
However, to quote Jewish scholar, Dennis Prager, “The problems in this country are not between people of different faiths, but between people of faith and a growing secularism that threatens to take over religion itself. ”
God bless Dr. Carson. If he is the GOP nominee, I will proudly cast my vote for him.