A couple of years ago, my oldest son told me about a book he’d been reading by a pediatric neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins in Baltimore named Dr. Benjamin Carson. He told me how impressed he was with Dr. Carson’s background.
“He grew up poor in Detroit,” my son explained, “His mother couldn’t read or write but she used to make her kids research and write papers every week for her to ‘grade.’ The kids didn’t know that she couldn’t even read them because she’d make marks on them to make them think that she could. Later, when they grew up and found out what she’d been doing, they realized that she was just trying to help them help themselves.”
Like my son, I thought that was a pretty neat story. I also thought that it was very impressive how far Dr. Carson had risen from such humble beginnings.
I’d completely forgotten about him until last week when he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast.
After hearing him, all I can say is that I wish I’d been paying attention to him these past two years.
When asked how he managed to accomplish all he’s done, Dr. Carson attributes his success to the principles his mother instilled in him. Evidently, she was very big on responsibility and accountability. She never let her two sons make excuses for failure.
Since his speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, Dr. Carson has received criticism from those who feel he shouldn’t have introduced “politics” into the bipartisan event. With President Obama in attendance, Dr. Carson touched not only on health care issues about which he’s undoubtedly an expert but also on tax policy.
Later, Dr. Carson defended his speech by noting that because it was a prayer breakfast, he elected to use the Bible as a resource for addressing some of the issues of the day. He also notes that four of the Declaration of Independence’s signers were physicians, so even at our country’s founding, you didn’t need a law degree to have an opinion on public policy.
As I listen to Dr. Carson’s speech and subsequent interviews, I’m impressed with how he applies empirical data and common sense when commenting on the issues of the day. There is no spin with him, and that’s refreshing.
Many people are now calling for Dr. Carson to run for office. The Wall Street Journal even hailed him as a possible presidential candidate. I have mixed feelings about that.
Doubtless, he would be an amazing public servant. Politics, though, seems to rough up even the best people. I would hate that for him.
Recently, I was visiting with my friend House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy about another friend who’d recently been elected to Congress.
“How do you think he’ll do?” he asked me.
“I’m not sure,” I responded, “His biggest problem may be that he’s too nice.”
Dr. Carson seems like an intelligent, thoughtful, and “nice” person. Whether or not that ultimately translates into an elected office, I think we’d all be wiser if we listened carefully to what he has to say.