Dissing the doctor

It’s interesting to see how many people feel free to “dis” Dr. Ben Carson.  You can certainly disagree with the good doctor.  I do, on a number of points.  And he won’t be my choice for president this time (although I’d be delighted to see him as surgeon general of the U.S.).

Dr. Carson is an amazing man with a wonderful story.  His career as a neurosurgeon should merit applause across the bitterly partisan divides in this country.

I find it depressing that people who agreed with the left-wing policy stances of the infamous Al Sharpton tempered their criticisms of this unscrupulous demagogue out of fear of offending his grassroots supporters.  Even Sen. Joe Lieberman – who had stood firmly against tyrants in the Mideast – bowed to the buffoonery of Sharpton.

Perhaps it’s the knowledge that Dr. Carson’s support comes from white evangelicals that emboldens his critics.  They are not content to dismiss his candidacy; they seem intent on putting this gentle and accomplished man down.

The normally sensible and sensitive Peter Wehner took to the pages of the New York Times to take issue with Dr. Carson’s discussion of the Nazi Holocaust.  Mr. Wehner is certainly entitled to disagree with the doctor’s contention that the Jews of Europe may have been safer had they been armed.

No less a figure than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the disarmament of Europe’s Jews.  In his book, Israel: A Place Among the Nations, Netanyahu argued that it was not the goodwill or even tolerance of Christians in Europe that had enabled the Jews to survive there for a millennium.  Instead, Netanyahu maintained, it was the fact that the Jews in their ghettoes were well-armed and capable of self-defense.  He sees Israel’s willingness to defend itself by force as an historical shift in attitude of the Jewish people – and a most necessary one.  So do I.

Be that as it may, what really rankles in the Peter Wehner Times column is the fact that he repeatedly refers to Ben Carson as “Mr.”  Surely he knows that Dr. Carson is a world-famous neurosurgeon.  I could not help, on reading the Wehner piece, thinking of the despicable conduct of Ted Kennedy at the time of the nomination of Judge Robert H. Bork to the Supreme Court.  Kennedy repeatedly referred to the eminent jurist as “Mr. Bork.”  Why would the decent Pete Wehner do something similar?

Wehner’s pique pales beside this post from the Washington Post, however.  The writers of their “202” politics blog feel free to take Dr. Carson back to eighth-grade civics and sneer at him.  They proclaimed that the doctor as “in over his head.”

On C-SPAN last night, the retired neurosurgeon praised Thomas Jefferson for his role crafting the Constitution “in a way that it would control peoples’ natural tendencies and control the natural growth of the government.” Jefferson, as 202 readers surely know, was our ambassador to France during the Constitutional Convention and thus not involved in formulating the Constitution. He drafted the Declaration of Independence a decade earlier.

That Mr. Jefferson was not involved in the actual framing of the Constitution is indisputable.  He was on the other side of the Atlantic during the Convention, as “202” pedantically notes.

But he had supplied his loyal lieutenant James Madison with a “literary cargo” of books and manuscripts from France to prep the younger man for his starring role at that Convention.  Too, Jefferson had much to say to many friends and political figures about the newly framed Constitution.  He supported it, generally, but criticized it for the perpetual eligibility of the president for re-election, and he thought the absence of a Bill of Rights in the original document a serious defect.

While Jefferson was in Paris during the entire drafting and ratification process, he had returned in time to join the new government by 1790.  He was in New York as the First Congress – led by Madison – busied itself drafting and then submitting for state ratification the Bill of Rights he had so ardently supported.

Do those Post penmen think the Bill of Rights is not an essential part of our Constitution?  And are not most of the first Ten Amendments restrictions on the powers of Congress and the federal government – the basic point Dr. Carson was making?

In their eagerness to show Ben Carson out of his depth, his critics are willing to wield their scalpels carelessly.  They are free to oppose him, but not to doctor American history as they do so.