Monday, December 08, 2014
Karl "The 'Genius' Who Can't Stop Hillary" Rove has written a column about whom he
calls the winners of the GOP's
"invisible primaries", leading to the 2016 presidential race. Among those winners is Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon of
whom I have had a vaguely positive impression:
Dr. Carson may have the most impressive list of new small donors. The Draft Carson Committee (with which he legally could not be involved) used his name to raise $11.1 million, spent $10.2 million (92%) on overhead and devoted $531,788 (5%) to supporting midterm candidates. American Legacy PAC (Dr. Carson heads its anti-ObamaCare project) used his signature to help raise $6.5 million, and spent $5.9 million (91%) on overhead and gave $140,090 (2%) to candidates. If Dr. Carson runs, his campaign presumably can use those donor names.In addition to already having strong grassroots support, Carson recently polled second only to Mitt Romney, showing that he already starts with good name recognition.
This is impressive, but I have become highly suspicious of GOP candidates in recent years. Accordingly, I decided to take a closer look at Carson, aided by the fact that he has a published a fair amount of commentary, making it easy to learn his actual positions on a host of relevant issues.
Hardly scratching the surface, I found the following whopper in a piece about a successful effort by a secular watchdog group to have the Navy remove Bibles from the rooms of its military hotels. After wrongly likening atheism to religion, Carson makes the following interesting analogy:
This is like saying there shouldn't be certain brands of bottled water in hotel rooms because there may be guests who prefer a different type of water or are offended by bottled water and think everybody should be drinking tap water. The logical answer to such absurdity would, of course, be that the offended individual could bring his own water or simply ignore the brand of water he does not care for.I have a small quibble to make with Dr. Carson here: These hotels are run by the government, which not only should not be taking a stand on what we should be thinking, but is also legally barred from doing so in the case of religion by the Establishment Clause. Carson's analogy is fine for a private business, whose owner can choose to provide (or allow others to provide) Bibles to his customers, but it fails here. This is because, at the very least, those Americans who are not Christian are being made to finance, however indirectly, the spread of ideas they do not support. Christians have freedom of speech, but that freedom does not include being provided a forum at the expense of non-Christians.
Dr. Carson cuts a very appealing figure to many, but intelligence and impressive credentials are not enough to make a defender of liberty. In that vein, let me offer a couple of analogies of my own: First, as is most obvious in economics, small breaches in freedom lead to larger ones. Letting the Navy off the hook here would be like leaving a small piece of a tumor behind during a cancer surgery, and pronouncing it cured. Second, if someone cannot be trusted in small matters, he should not be trusted in large ones. As Carson's condescending language about "'big boy' pants" indicates, this may be a relatively minor affront to individual rights in today's context, but it is a violation nonetheless. A true defender of freedom tolerates no breach, and would have the courage to say so.
Carson may well emerge, in today's horrendous culture, as the lesser of two evils in the 2016 election, but that is the best I can say for him.