“Ben Carson, whose reputation for genius rests on the singular neurological feat of separating conjoined twins fused at the cranium, has displayed far less talent in separating himself from the brainless excesses that now darken the heart of black conservatism,” Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson starts his essay published there this week. “When reason gives way to political demonology it mocks the scientific progress on which Dr. Carson’s surgical career depended. That’s why he’d make a bad president.”
This isn’t anything new for Dyson to say; he has long been a critic of the retired physician who has said Obamacare is the “worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery” and compared Obama’s America to Nazi Germany. But publishing in CurrentSee — a weekly magazine launched in March by the Washington Times in an effort to appeal to black conservatives — is a particularly interesting choice. That’s because Carson is its founding publisher.
“It’s really easy to get tunnel vision unless you hear from all sides,” Carson said in a phone interview Monday. Clearly, Carson is a believer of the old cliche that all press is good press.
The idea, says executive editor and Carson’s business manager Armstrong Williams, came after hearing Dyson criticize the maybe-candidate on television.
“[Carson] said he could only gain from hearing what people like him had to say,” Williams said. “So I reached out to Michael Eric Dyson, who thought it was a joke. He said, ‘Brother, you’re serious? You want me to criticize him?’ I said ‘We’re not like everybody else; we want to hear your criticism.’ ”
Dyson joined four other writers who took turns pointing out what they considered weaknesses of both Carson’s policies and his politics.
“You told Glenn Beck 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,” writes conservative radio host Steve Deace. “You 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?”
There’s an article from a student pursuing a master’s degree in clinical and health services called “Against Carsoncare: Free market is the wrong medicine,” and Raynard Jackson, a Republican political consultant, warned him that he could risk being just another “flavor of the month.”
In theory, Carson says he would like to learn and adapt based on what his critics have to say, but he hasn’t yet been convinced. In response to the essay about his free-market alternative to Obamacare, for example, Carson just said, “I think probably the writer doesn’t fully understand my proposals.”
Carson is nothing if not a divisive character. After a wildly successful career as a surgeon, he took a hard turn into politics at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013. There, just feet from President Obama, he gave ascathing speech about the Affordable Care Act. Obama tried not to look angry in front of the cameras, and Carson became a star.
This past summer he took a bus tour promoting his best-selling book “One Nation” and publicly flirted with the idea of a presidential run.
While in Iowa, he stopped at bookstores overflowing with supporters, signed hundreds of books and grinned to the chant of “Run, Ben, Run.” There is no such thing as negative attention.
“I expected it,” Carson says of the criticism that he solicited. “Once you get close to the hornet’s nest, they start buzzing. You’re not challenging what’s happening at all if they’re not talking about you.”
And what better way is there to get people talking about you, than to just ask for it?