By Dave Andrusko
The headline in today’s Washington Post story is, “The focus is on Carson and Trump as Republicans prepare for third debate.” Fair enough.
Clearly these two men are, for the moment, head and shoulders above their rivals in the race to win the GOP presidential nomination, at least as measured by public opinion polls. Speaking of which, the results of a New York Times/CBS News poll released yesterday show that Dr. Carson has taken a narrow lead over Mr. Trump among national GOP voters (26% to 22% with a six-point margin of error).
Again, because there are still many Republican candidates, there will be what is unfortunately called an “undercard” first. Among the four are Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former New York governor George Pataki, and former U.S. senator Rick Santorum (Pa.).
Following them at 8:00 EST will be the top ten. In addition to Carson and Trump, that includes former Florida governor Jeb Bush, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Ted Cruz (Tx.), former tech executive Carly Fiorina, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.). and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.).
I encourage you to watch the debate on CNBC which will be moderated by Carl Quintanilla, Becky Quick, and John Harwood.
No one would have expected that as Dr. Carson rose and rose and rose in public opinion polls that the “mainstream media” would do anything other than a hatchet job. It’s one thing to criticize him for his policy positions–especially Carson’s unabashed support for life. That is fair game, although it would be more fair if critics would address the difference of opinion rather than demeaning the man.
Which brings us to a drive-by column which is as vicious as it is shallow and as one-sided as it is snarky and fourth-rate journalism. I give you Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy.
You don’t to read more than two Milloy columns to know that he is–how shall we put it?–not a pleasant human being. His responses online last night to critics were even more ill-tempered than his baffling column. As you would expect, Milloy lashed out at anyone who questioned his motives.
The sum and substance of “At Johns Hopkins, there’s little to show Ben Carson worked there” is that Dr. Carson (a) takes more credit than he deserves for pioneering surgery separating conjoined at the head twins (although even Milloy concedes Carson makes a sincere “effort to share the limelight”); (b) Carson’s picture in John Hopkins’ “milestones in medicine” timeline is “a small photo located on the bottom of the timeline, in a row set aside for people who had received awards”; and –the ultimate putdown–(c) that a random African-America couple Milloy meets there agrees the size of the photo is pretty much exactly what Carson’s contributions (read miniscule) merit.
Many people who commented began by saying they were not Republicans, would never vote for Carson, and disagree with him on this or that issue. But they also wondered what any of this had to do with anything, certainly with Carson’s running for President?
Did Milloy do any independent research that would validate his conclusion that Carson is not valued by Johns Hopkins? Or is strolling down the corridor as much energy as Milloy could muster?
Did he talk to any–like maybe one–of the thousands of families who benefited from Carson’s surgical skills? Or would that mess up the narrative: that most of the people Milloy interviewed were, like Carson, African-American, and had no use for a man who is part of a “GOP that continues to move closer to the far right and backs policies that seemingly do more harm than good to America’s black citizens.”
Again the issue is not differences over issues. It is about vituperation on steroids. Milloy wants everyone to believe what he broadly hints at: an African-American who is a pro-life conservative Republican is not just a ‘traitor” but certifiably delusional. It is no accident that many pro-Milloy, anti-Carson responders took Milloy’s suggestion and ran with it. Verdict first, evidence later.
It’s not just that Milloy is bound and determined to portray a humble man–Dr. Carson–as arrogant and over-appreciated. He also writes “Had that ego-boosting narrative fermented delusions of being leader of the free world?”
One might ask, has ascension to a perch writing content-free op eds for the Washington Post–an ego-booster if ever there was one–fermented delusions in Milloy that he is a journalist?
The longer Dr. Carson remains in the upper echelons of the GOP field, the more vicious the character assassination will become.