Tag: Ben Carson

Do Republicans Care About Winning?


DebateThe question dogs any woman who writes about politics: “Don’t you want to see the first woman elected president of the United States?” The unstated premise, always obvious, is that you are some sort of traitor to your sex if your hand isn’t itching to pull the lever for someone with the correct chromosomes. My answer has always been, “That depends upon what she believes.”

Hillary Clinton banked on the First Woman President effect from the start — an understandable gambit for someone with no substantive accomplishments and many flaws. Her sex may be the only thing she hasn’t lied about. She doubtless lulls herself to sleep at night by lovingly eyeing the cross tabs of election data showing that women are an ever increasing share of the total electorate (53 percent in 2012); that single women in particular lean hard to the Democrats (67 percent voted for Obama in 2012); and that marriage is on the decline among younger voters.

Two things will disturb her reverie. One: In the past two months, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, Mrs. Clinton’s support among Democratic women voters has dropped by 29 points, from 71 percent to 42 percent. Two: Carly Fiorina demonstrates what a true leader looks like.

Attention, Science! Fans: People are Complicated


Over the past few election cycles, it’s become standard practice to ask the Republican candidates whether or not they “believe” in evolution, and to use their answers as a test to determine the candidates’ piety, critical thinking skills, and cultural values. I find the evidence for common descent and change over time to be incredibly compelling, so I think the question is useful, but its heuristic value as a shorthand for whether one “accepts science” is wildly overrated. People are complicated, and it’s generally foolhardy to evaluate someone’s thinking on a single metric.

As a case in point, consider the exchange last night over vaccines. Over the last decade — and again in the debate — Trump has repeatedly claimed that vaccines are the source of the “autism epidemic.” This is demonstrably false. The rise in autism diagnoses is overwhelmingly the result of broadening its definition and greater public concern and awareness. Moreover, the study that initially started the scare has been retracted by its publisher, and the ingredient (thimerosal) most commonly alleged to be the culprit hasn’t been in the standard childhood vaccination schedule* since around 2002. Diagnoses have continued to rise, regardless.

Review: Remembering Who We Are: A Treasury of Conservative Commencement Addresses


rem-who-we-areAccording to US Federal Election Commission data, 96 percent of Ivy League faculty and administrators that gave money to a presidential candidate in 2012 donated to President Obama. The left-leaning nature of American academia is well-known, but rarely raised in polite company. Speaking at Harvard’s 363rd commencement last year, however, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did just that. Citing the Election Commission’s figure, he uncomfortably tempered Harvard’s next generation of leaders with a message of tolerance over uniformity. “There was more disagreement than that among the members of the old Soviet Politburo,” he said, adding the obvious sleight that “a university cannot be great if its faculty is politically homogenous.”

In order to weather its current economic and political challenges, America needs not only a more balanced exchange of ideas, but to reconnect with tried and tested principles. Thus, the purpose of Zev Chafet’s Remembering Who We Are, a diverse collection of college commencement addresses, “is not to develop a right-wing orthodoxy, but precisely to show the intellectual and cultural nuance on that side of the spectrum.”

From neurosurgeon Ben Carson, to playwright David Mamet and others, the speeches thread messages of individual liberty, responsibility, free enterprise, and the rule of law with personal experience and advice to the next generation.

This Isn’t an Electorate; It’s a Lit Match


shutterstock_299214437And this cycle keeps getting weirder. From Phillip Rucker at the Washington Post:

Presidential candidates usually don’t run on promises to vacate the White House once they get in office, but that’s what Lawrence Lessig said he might do as he begins exploring a protest bid for the 2016 Democratic nomination.

Lessig, a Harvard law professor and government reform activist, announced Tuesday morning that he was launching a presidential exploratory committee to run as what he called a “referendum president” with the chief purpose of enacting sweeping changes to the nation’s political system and ethics laws.

GOP Bracketology — July Version


Tournament-BracketNow that Scott Walker’s in the race, with John Kasich on tap for next week, the GOP’s 2016 field soon will total 16 presidential candidates. We can rank them, 1-16. Or go by tiers. Or pick names out of a hat. My choice: divide the field into four brackets, four candidates apiece, which I’ve done in this column over at Forbes.com.

Bracket One — The Non-Conformists

1. Donald Trump

Ben Carson Is Not Interested in Politics


Ben CarsonBen Carson is not interested in politics. “People ask me,” he says to the assembled crowd at a town hall meeting in Barrington, New Hampshire, “what made you interested in politics after such a wonderful career in medicine?” He pauses slightly. “I’m not interested in politics; I’m interested in saving this country.”

His career in medicine has shown him that health is the most valuable thing we have. If you give someone the choice, “you can have a hundred million dollars, but be a quadriplegic, or you can have perfect health and no money, I think the choice is pretty obvious.” That’s why Carson speaks out against Obamacare. America is an incredible nation, founded by incredible people, to be of the people, for the people, by the people. Government is intended only to facilitate our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, Carson says. Obamacare reverses that by making government the giver of things. If we accept the government’s ruling the most important thing we have — health — then we’ll accept anything.

There’s hope, though, he says. He has a soft voice and his eyes are half-closed as he stands calmly in front of us. One senses that his would be the temperament you want in a surgeon. “Thomas Jefferson predicted this,” he says quietly. “He was a great man. He said eventually the people would become less vigilant and the government would expand to control everything we did. But just before that, people would wake up and take back control. I hope that this is that time. If this is not that, then it’s over.”

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I saw Dr. Benjamin Carson at a rare lunchtime occurrence of the Politics And Eggs series.  (Usually they are breakfasts.)  This time it was at the Bedford Village Inn. He gave a somewhat rambling but otherwise engaging talk.  He began by discussing some of his surgical experiences, trying to relate them to problems our country is facing. […]

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I will be attending the townhall meeting with Carly Fiorina in Barrington, NH, on Monday, July 6th, at 5PM. Then on Tuesday, July 7th, I’ll also be going to a townhall in the same location with Ben Carson. Does anyone else want to come too? I’ll wear my Ricochet hat so you can recognize me. […]

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Miss Berlinski once asked, on a whim, a rather dangerous question: What do you believe to be true that no one else believes to be true? That is the way to start a civil war. Happily, I am a stranger, so I believe I can afford to answer that question–not without all due apologies, not […]

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The Failed Presidential Candidate Employment Agency


shutterstock_245961226June having dawned, we’re beginning to get a decent sense of what the (enormous) GOP presidential field is going to look like. By my tally, we’re probably going to end up with approximately 15 relatively prominent candidates. That’s four sitting governors — Christie, Kasich, Jindal, and Walker; four former governors — Bush, Huckabee, Pataki, and Perry; four sitting senators — Cruz, Graham, Paul, and Rubio; Santorum, the lone former senator; and the two who’ve never held elected office, Carson and Fiorina. I know everyone’s focused on how you get all these people onto one stage, but I’ve been thinking about another dynamic: there are 14 people in that group who aren’t going to be the Republican nominee. What do they do next? Here are my thoughts for each of these candidates should they fail to win the big prize. Add yours in the comments.

Bush — Make gobs of money? True, there’ll be an open Senate seat in Florida next year with Rubio choosing not to run again, but most former executives don’t relish time in the legislative branch — and it’s not clear how much cachet Bush still has in the state given that he’ll have been out of office for a decade at that point (especially with Florida’s high population turnover). Given his record as governor, Bush probably would’ve been at the top of any Republican president’s list for Secretary of Education — but, given how closely identified with Common Core he’s become, I doubt that’s necessarily true anymore.

Carson — Even in these early days, it’s become clear that Ben Carson probably should not be in this race. His penchant for gaffes and his ability to get tripped up by even rudimentary policy questions likely augurs a campaign that will end in embarrassment — which is a real shame, because Carson is immensely accomplished and has lived a great American life…just not one that needs to culminate in a presidential bid. Given his rise from childhood poverty in Detroit to the commanding heights of the medical field, he provides an incredible example for young African-American men throughout the country. If he placed his focus there — perhaps starting an organization that was a more conservative equivalent of Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program — he could do an immense amount of good.

Sorting the Republicans’ 2016 Kingdom


29pataki-sub-2-superjumboThe GOP presidential field continues to swell like Elvis’ waistline in the 1970s. Former New York Governor George Pataki jumped into the fray on Thursday, a day after former Pennsylvania Senator and 2012 contender Rick Santorum made his intentions known.

Does either candidate stand a chance of making it all the way to the nomination?

Don’t bet on it. Pataki is the longest of long shots – he cut crime rates and taxes during three terms as head of the Empire State, but he’s also a Roosevelt Republican and social liberal. Santorum was the surprise winner in Iowa the last time caucus-goers voted. But this time around, it’s a far more crowded field.

Top Presidential Disqualifiers


shutterstock_106049342The great unwashed have been polled by WSJ/NBC, and have spoken. The top three traits causing voters to be uncomfortable or have reservations about a president candidate are: 1. No previous elected experience (excludes Carson and Fiorina) 2. A leader of the Tea Party movement (excludes Cruz and possibly Rubio); and 3. No college degree (excludes Walker).

While I haven’t been able to dig up the methodology on this poll — and I suspect Democrats are over-sampled, as usual — I believe these results are instructive. The most favorable traits among the general electorate are for an African-American or a woman, which verifies my speculation that Hillary picks up six points just for being a woman, the way Barack Obama picked up six for being African-American. It also tells me that Americans are enamored by what identity politics says about them way more than they are interested in improving the country. I think that’s sad, but true.

The poll also indicates how hung-up the country has become on credentials, and how badly damaged the Tea Party brand has become. There’s also something deeply disturbing about the state of the nation’s moral compass that “corrupt” doesn’t even register as a category. That may be a flaw in the poll or, perhaps — as long as your team wins — it doesn’t matter if your candidate regularly sells her influence to the highest bidder <cough>Hillary Clinton<cough>. Hard to tell without more information.

The Headache Factor


Carson delivers remarks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MarylandThe New York Times celebrated St Patrick’s Day not with a wearin’ of the green, but instead with a wary look at the long shots in the Republican presidential field. Chief among “The Grey Lady’s” concerns: what it dubs “the Ben Carson movement” — the support surrounding the pediatric neurosurgeon seeking the presidency in what the Times deems a political insurrection.

The question: is 2016 going to be a repeat of 2012, when a series of movement GOP candidates had their 15 minutes of fame, yet the contest still ultimately went to the establishment candidate? Or, will outsiders like Carson change the script? And, if they can’t change the outcome, are they are a benefit or a liability to whoever gets the nod?

If you look at the recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll that asked GOP voters to rate the candidates, Carson was in the middle of the pack: 41% said they could support him, placing him seventh out of 14 (behind Rubio, Walker, Huckabee, Bush, Paul, and Perry; ahead of Cruz, Santorum, Jindal, Christie, Trump, Graham, and Fiorina).

The GOP’s Fight Club


621_356_fight_club1Sometimes, late-night television writers have to scrounge for material. Other times, comedy falls right in their laps. For example: news reports that a 68-year-old Mitt Romney plans to climb into the ring with former boxing champ Evander Holyfield.

It’s part of a May 15 card in Salt Lake City. And before you think Romney’s lost his mind (or suffered damage from too many political campaigns), rest assured that (a) his heart’s in the right place (it’s a fundraising event for Charity Vision, a humanitarian organization founded by retired Salt Lake physician Bill Jackson) and (b) the former GOP nominee hasn’t lost his sense of humor (“It will either be a very short fight, or I will be knocked unconscious,” he told reporters. “It won’t be much of a fight. We’ll both suit up and get in the ring and spar around a little bit.”).

We’ll see how Romney’s boxing skills measure up with those of another Utah legend: Donny Osmond.

Ricochet Founders Interview Ben Carson — Only on the Member Feed


Carson speaks to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, MarylandIf you’re one of Ricochet’s many readers and podcast listeners who hasn’t yet signed up for a membership, today might be the day. Yes, there’s plenty of great content here on the Main Feed and on the free podcasts, but our members will tell you (believe us, just look in the comments) that our real secret sauce is the Member Feed, a place where the brightest, funniest, most thoughtful conservatives around the country come together to talk shop on politics and culture. There’s some extraordinary talent over there — including a few people who’ve even joined our roster of contributors — as well as some of the most spirited (yet civil) debate that you’ll find on the web. There are also goodies, including — new today — a conversation between Ricochet’s founders, Peter Robinson and Rob Long, and Dr. Ben Carson. It’s a great interview and one you won’t want to miss out on. So what are you waiting for? Sign up today. Memberships start as low as $5 a month.