Retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon Ben Carson is a 2016 Republican presidential nominee candidate. Against all odds, he became an influential American who is admired by many. For that reason, he was invited to the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast where the he was expected to share encouraging words of faith, give thanks and inspire listeners to live full Christian lives.
Mr. Obama was also invited. Against all odds he became the 44th president of the United States and inspired a multitude of minorities and non-minorities alike.
Instead, he paid no courtesy to this historic figure sitting next to him that was the unlikely president who had given him an opportunity to engage a huge audience.
Dr. Carson could have differences in philosophy and may not have agreed with Obama’s political views but the time for expressing this sentiment was not at this venue!
After ‘the speech’ he ran straight into the arms of the awaiting ultraconservative talk show hosts and giddily answered all their ‘Atta boy’ softball questions. Their premature revelry was akin to the Prodigal Son’s as he spent the inopportune proceedings from ‘his’ share of the daddy’s estate. Carson was oblivious to the transient nature of the ‘bliss’ derived from this foolhardy endeavor.
He did not stop to think about all those Americans that could have been offended by his shrewdness and lack of respect for the tradition of the occasion and the historical nature of the man that had thought him worthy of invitation; his fallibility not withstanding.
If only he’d adopted a gracious tone and started for example by citing Obama’s unlikely but successful bid for the presidency, by applauding the efforts to provide health care for all while simultaneously curbing the sky-rocketing costs of medical care and by confronting the statistic that over 60% of all bankruptcies in the US are caused by over-inflated healthcare costs!
Carson could have then declared that even in acknowledging the positives in this scenario, he had personal opinions on healthcare reform, some of which differ sharply from the presidents. There are many voters who would have applauded the doctor for disagreeing in this manner, as this would have been seen to be respectful yet full of tact.
Dr. Carson could have captured the attention of this sizable audience of politically center-minded folks that’d had pride in him like a son heretofore. In other words, he could have had his cake and eaten it too!
In spite of the loyalty of his core base, he would need this constituency of voters to put him over the top. He instead chose to jettison and trade them in for a meteoric but skewed launch that was destined for the wrong orbit.
Although Carson is extremely intelligent, he has demonstrated a degree of myopia that has the potential to frustrate his chances. Now even with a current approval rating of around 10-20%, it’s tempting to surmise that this too has peaked. A cruel and disheartening disillusionment will hit soon and may have to give up contention for the republican primary nomination.
Carson may be a giant in the operating room but so far has proven to be dwarf on the political stage.