Ben, the two of us need look no more
We both found what we were looking for
With my friend to call my own, I’ll never be alone
And you, my friend, will see, you’ve got a friend in me
—“Ben,” as sung by Michael Jackson
eing black and being conservative is a sure way to get some face time on Fox or some mouth time on right-wing radio. It’s no secret that right-wingers have been looking for an Anti-Obama, some nimble-minded African-American who can represent and articulate reactionary conservatism the way they mistakenly think Obama represents and articulates radical liberalism.
As for Fox, nearly every black conservative in America has appeared on the “news” channel at some time or another, and the latest black conservative interest, after Allen West and Herman Cain, is Dr. Benjamin Carson. Network stars have been practically begging Carson to run for president, and this morning he appeared once again on the IQ-unfriendly Fox and Friends, apparently just to remind Foxers that he is still black and still conservative and, by the way, has a book for sale. It was the usual stuff.
But Ben Carson himself is rather unusual. Not too many political junkies had heard of him before he kicked sand in President Obama’s face at this year’s National Prayer Breakfast. Carson’s 27-minute talk caused legs and other body parts to tingle throughout the conservative media complex, including at The Wall Street Journal, which was ready to put him in the White’s House. A salivating Sean Hannity asked him if he would run for president and he said he would,
if the Lord grabbed me by the collar and made me do it.
He told ABC’s Jonathan Carl that it wasn’t his “intention” to run for office,
But I always say, ‘I’ll leave that up to God.”
Uh-oh. God, as we have seen lately, has had some trouble picking winners, so the Almighty may be somewhat reluctant to tell yet another right-winger that he (or she) is presidential material.
Carson grew up poor in Detroit with his Bible-believing mom. After some initial resistance, he eventually responded to her you-can-do-anything admonitions and began doing well in school. Troubled with a ferocious temper—reportedly he tried to hit his mom with a hammer and tried to stab a friend with a knife—he figured out how to control it. He got a scholarship to Yale and graduated with a degree in psychology, then graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School. At 33 he became the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, the youngest doctor ever to do so.
He became world-famous for his work on separating conjoined twins, and this fascinating article reveals the complexity and teamwork involved in that amazing type of surgery. He has received lots of awards, including our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2008. He even had a TV movie made about him.
Because of his notoriety as a surgeon and his inner-city background, Carson began making a lot of speeches, sharing his story and God-fearing conservative philosophy with others, and writing books, most recently, America the Beautiful: Rediscovering What Made This Nation Great.
You can, by now, guess what made America great, according to Carson: Judeo-Christian values and unfettered capitalism. And you can guess that if we don’t listen to this neurosurgeon’s political advice, including lowering taxes on rich people, we’re all doomed.
But what you probably couldn’t guess—unless you observe right-wing behavior fairly closely—is that what Carson really wants, more than being in the White’s House, is a television gig.
According to The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe,
After a several-day onslaught from fans and the media, many wanting to know his potential political plans, Carson has eased away from suggestions he may have his eyes on the White House. The 61-year-old doctor now says the likelihood of a presidential run is “incredibly small.” What he really wants is a second career in television when he retires from Johns Hopkins later this year.
“Maybe if you write about it in your article, somebody will say, ‘Let’s do it,’ ” he said in an interview. […]
Before he left, Carson finished his thought. He would like to do a show that focuses on “educating the American populace about things that are essential to our freedom,” he said in his soft, steady voice. Or he would like to try a show that would bring together people who hold opposing views on critical issues that are dividing the nation. Carson would then help them seek a middle ground or resolution.
“If the proper venue was presented, I would probably accept such a thing,” he said.
Of course! Who wouldn’t rather get paid a million bucks to go on TV and tell people how to run the country, instead of actually going to the trouble of getting elected and, well, running the country?
The New York Times interviewed the new conservative star and reported:
Dr. Carson said he was a “flaming liberal” in college but became conservative through his own climb to success. “One thing I always believed strongly in was personal responsibility and hard work,” he said. “I found the Democrat Party leaving me behind on that particular issue.”
Look, I don’t have a problem with someone changing his or her political views. This is, after all, The Erstwhile Conservative blog. But what really disturbs me about this surgical savant turned political philosopher is that last comment. You know, the one about Democrats not believing in personal responsibility and hard work, which is why the good doctor abandoned them.
I don’t know one single Democrat who doesn’t believe in personal responsibility and hard work, do you? And I don’t see a plank in the Democratic Party platform that reads: “We’re for irresponsible behavior and laziness.”
The truth is that some folks achieve great success or get rich or both and then suddenly remember that they are conservatives and that it was conservatives who invented personal responsibility and hard work, and that if you didn’t grow up to be wealthy or, say, a famous brain surgeon, then you didn’t work hard enough because Democrats said you didn’t have to.
I am sick of that lying meme.
And I am sick of the lying meme that says if you work hard and play by all the rules, you too will be successful and live out your dreams. Not everyone will. Not everyone who does all the right things ends up with a pot of gold at the end. Some folks don’t even end up with much of a pot.
God love Ben Carson’s mother and what she did for her son, but there are a lot of mothers like that who raise their kids to be hard-working, responsible adults who don’t happen to see those kids turn out to be famous or wealthy or the object of Rush Limbaugh’s affections.
And, by God, there are a lot of mothers who raise their kids like Ben Carson’s mother raised him and those mothers happen to call themselves Democrats because they believe that the Democratic Party, for all its faults, is the party that, should all else fail, keep an eye on those who can’t or don’t make it.
Dr. Carson is obviously an extraordinary man with exceptional talents. He also seems to be just slightly less doctrinaire than the average conservative know-it-all, even though he said something at CPAC as ridiculous as anything that has exited the mouth of Bill O’Reilly, when he told the cheering crowd, “We have to resist this war on God.” War on God? How can a man so smart say something so dumb? I guess it’s all part of auditioning for a job on Fox.
In any case, Dr. Carson may get a television deal or run for president or some other political office. But if he really wants to serve people, as he has claimed time and again, I hope he changes his mind about retiring as a surgeon at Johns Hopkins.
We have enough right-wing pundits and politicians in this country and not enough people who can do what Ben Carson can do for his fellow human beings, in the following case an eight-year-old girl: