Ben Carson is an accomplished pediatric neurosurgeon. He is the first person to separate twins conjoined at the head successfully. His life story is inspiring. He is also an altogether kind and decent man. His faith and devotion to God are both very clear. However, none of these are grounds enough to gain the nomination to the presidency. He was virtually unknown in political circles until a speech at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast. Since being in the national spotlight, he’s given a number of claims that raise concern about his experience.
Carson has implied that he supports a ten percent flat tax. His most often stated reasoning is that God has a ten percent tithe, and “God is a pretty fair guy.” The flat tax does indeed have a few positives. It would undoubtedly be simpler than the current tax code which is overly complicated, distorts markets and supports special interests.
However, it also has a few drawbacks. For one, depending on how the payroll tax is affected, a flat tax could be a tax increase on many Americans. Meanwhile, it’s unlikely that such a low, flat rate could bring in enough money to support current federal spending. A President Carson would have to propose major spending cuts.
In March, Carson was interviewed by radio host Hugh Hewitt. During the interview, Carson seemed to demonstrate a lack of familiarity with both Islamic history and NATO. Hewitt asked Carson about the origin of Islamic fundamentalists’ rage. Carson responded, “You have to recognize that they go back thousands and thousands of years—really back to the battle between Jacob and Esau.”
First of all, Ishmael, not Esau, is generally regarded as the ancestor of many Arabs, including Muhammed. Second of all, as Hewitt points out, Islam itself isn’t nearly that old. Muhammed wasn’t even born until circa AD 570. Jacob and Esau appear in the book of Genesis. They are the children of Abraham and well predate even Moses and the Ten Commandments.
Carson also hypothesized that radical Sunnis and Shi’as would unite against the United States. While radicals of both branches are certainly against the United States, there really isn’t a high likelihood of them uniting. They fight each quite often and brutally.
During the same interview, Hewitt asked Carson about possible Russian aggression in the Baltic States, i.e. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Carson said that, “We need to convince them to get involved in NATO, and strengthen NATO.” This answer made it seem as though he didn’t know the three states were already a part of NATO, though he said he was confused and didn’t realize they were discussing the three Baltic States.
Carson also said in March, when asked if homosexuality is a choice, that, “a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight—and when they come out, they’re gay.” He apologized for the statement and by no means has been the most opposed to same-sex marriage in the field, but this statement makes him seem very ill-informed.
On the positive side for Carson, these statements were all made some time ago. He hasn’t said anything to this degree since, though he does continue to imply a support for a ten percent flat tax and on Sunday made a controversial claim that he would not support a Muslim for president.
The world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon is undoubtedly an intelligent man. He certainly has a capacity to study and learn more about the issues. However, while his more concerning statements have stopped, he hasn’t demonstrated a firm grasp of the issues yet, either. Until he does, the idea of him as Commander-in-Chief is concerning.