This Actually Happened: (Would-be) Politician Asks for Accountability
For me, it’s all about accountability.
However, the candidates and politicians I write about usually embrace accountability the way I embraced eating that dreadful canned spinach as a child. Accountability to most politicians means, “I may be warm spit but my opponent represents the chunky bile still in your throat.”
So as he gears up for his likely 2016 presidential run, if Dr. Ben Carson is trying to send the message that he’s not going to be your typical politician he’s off to a good start.
Two weeks ago, I got a call from Armstrong Williams, the business manager for “Team Carson,” asking me to submit some criticism of candidate Carson, which Team Carson would then publish in their own accountability column. You read that write: one of Dr. Carson’s closest confidants actually came to me seeking criticism.
After I nearly drove off the road in disbelief, he assured me they were serious. Because I couldn’t resist finding out if they really were, I went ahead and submitted the following excerpt from a recent Washington Times column I had written about Dr. Carson’s presidential prospects:
You’ve given conflicting opinions on two of the most important issues in a GOP primary: the Second Amendment and the sanctity of life. You told Glenn Beck that the Second Amendment may not apply in some urban areas, but also wrote a column for The Washington Times accurately explaining why our Founding Fathers gave it to us in the first place. So which is it? You’ve called the killing of unborn children ‘murder’ which it is, but then you also praised a friend of yours running for U.S. Senate in Oregon because she was “pragmatic” for not opposing it. So which is it?
Knock me over with a feather folks, but Team Carson actually printed that verbatim as promised. In fact, I’ve been so busy lately I had forgotten I had sent that to them until I saw The Washington Post wrote about it. In an article titled “Ben Carson’s critics weigh in – at Ben Carson’s expense,” WAPO noted that “some of the harshest criticism” of Carson can be found in an online magazine that Carson himself publishes.
Furthermore, mine wasn’t even the harshest criticism. A Georgetown professor is quoted as saying Carson is guilty of “political demonology.” A GOP consultant who will remain nameless (because almost all GOP consultants should be unseen and unheard) calls Carson the, “flavor of the month.” There’s a segment devoted to criticism of Carson’s free-market healthcare reform ideas, and so on and so on.
As one of the world’s most decorated neurosurgeons, Carson obviously comes from a profession where the free exchange of ideas and criticism are commonplace.
Unfortunately, he’s now going into politics, where each of those cherished hallmarks of human progress is shunned in exchange for emotion-based demagoguery and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz.
Nevertheless, this is brilliant for three reasons.
1) It further reinforces the message that Carson is not your typical politician. While the American people are unsure of where they want to go next ideologically, they are sure they don’t want any more typical politicians if they have the choice.
2) It insulates Carson from criticism he is likely to run into on the campaign trail – that he’s not knowledgeable enough to go from zero-to-hero in the political arena. Carson can acknowledge up front that he has much to learn, but given his obvious intellect he can claim he’s getting up to speed by listening to smart people on every side—thus turning a negative into a positive. Suddenly inexperience becomes open-minded. Besides, America just voted for a know-it-all political savior, and look how that turned out. People might be more in the mood for an everyman.
3) Remember how in the classic movie “Miracle on 34th Street” the Macy’s Kris Kringle wins over even more customer loyalty by admitting their competitors have cheaper prices? Consumers were so appreciative of his honesty that made them want to shop at Macy’s all the more. Trust is sorely lacking between the government and the governed at the moment. Carson’s transparency could disarm his critics and ingratiate him to cynical voters, who have already heard every lie and talking point the current system repeatedly regurgitates.
Carson’s vetting process is just getting underway. He can expect to face more scrutiny similar to the spanking he received from a Rand Paul supporter, who says Carson has “a history of extreme liberal statements that will undoubtedly cause a problem for him should he decide to run in 2016.”
However, if Carson’s aim is to present himself to voters as a simple man who simply wants to preserve for this and the next generation the American Dream that made him successful, he’s off to a good start.
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