Matthew Kirincic ‘13
Most people familiar with national politics would not consider the National Prayer Breakfast to be the platform for a meteoric rise of the next big star in politics; that was until Ben Carson took the microphone on February 7, 2013. Dr. Carson, a renowned neurosurgeon who serves as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at John’s Hopkins University, was given the opportunity to keynote the annual event that consistently counts the President of the United States as a guest. With President Obama sitting a few feet away, Ben Carson made a series of controversial remarks about the President’s policies. This sparked frenzy among the political media; some called for Dr. Carson to apologize to the President, while others implored him to make a run for the Oval Office himself.
Rich Lowery, the editor of the National Review, penned an article entitled “Ben Carson vs. Obama,” in which he contrasts the views of two men who share a similar upbringing. Carson, like Obama, is an African-American man who rose to great success despite encountering many obstacles in life. Lowery praises the speech, stating “Carson’s is a voice of hope and aspiration but also of rigor and of standards.” While acknowledging that the speech was much more policy-based than intended for the forum, he compliments Dr. Carson for his powerful defense of the American virtues of hard work and determination.
It did not take long for the Wall Street Journal to compliment Dr. Carson on his address. The day after the event they printed their article, “Ben Carson for President.” They praise his “two big ideas for America”, the first being his unorthodox case for a flat tax. Carson argues that a flat tax is the fairest way to tax Americans while referencing to religious tithes and citing God as its creator. His other big idea is a change in health care policy. Dr. Carson lays out his solution: “When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, an electronic medical record, and a health savings account to which money can be contributed – pretax – from the time your born ‘til the time you die.” The authors of the article, whether in policy or sentiment, supported both proposals.
Dr. Carson clearly knew that his speech would draw controversy; he begins his remarks by stating “It’s not my intention to offend anyone. But it’s hard not to. The PC police are out in force everywhere.” That commentary resonated with many people, and it was well cited in the Wall Street Journal article. Dr. Carson’s dismissal of the “politically correct” police could prove to be a major asset to the United States. While we are struggling socially and economically, our nation could use a dose of tough love that an accomplished surgeon can provide. Having dealt with hundreds of patients and their families, Dr. Carson is certainly no stranger to telling people hard truths. It is easy to see how a leader who can tell hard truths to the American people could save our nation from further peril.
Juan Williams, a former guest speaker for the Eisenhower Institute’s Blavatt Lecture, also contributed his own unique praise for Dr. Ben Carson. In his opinion article, Williams calls Ben Carson a winner because he lives by his conservative principles. He mentions Carson’s attitude and determination to succeed even in the most difficult circumstances. Williams notes that Ben Carson achieved great success even though he was born to a single mother in one of the poorest black neighborhoods in Detroit. While Juan Williams does not support the policy proposals of Dr. Carson, he celebrates him as a role model for African-Americans and other minorities, as well as an example of personal success.
Dr. Ben Carson appears to have a bright future in the political world. Carson can serve as an example of the American success story as well as a man who is never fearful of expressing his beliefs. Carson’s courage to avoid political correctness is a much-needed trait in politicians today. Only time will tell if Dr. Carson will use his knowledge, skills, and passion to begin a political career. But one thing is for certain – Ben Carson left a lasting mark on all those who heard his remarks.
Watch Dr. Ben Carson’s full speech here: http://video.foxnews.com/v/2152105947001/dr-benjamin-carsons-speech-at-prayer-breakfast/?playlist_id=162223