Government & Politics

Media Undercuts Ben Carson's 2016 Bid Out of the Gate

Using social issues to "discredit" conservatives.

Michael Swartz · Mar. 6, 2015

It didn’t take long for Ben Carson’s nascent 2016 presidential campaign to suffer a self-inflicted wound. Just after launching his “exploratory committee,” Carson spoke to CNN’s Chris Cuomo. When the conversation turned to homosexuality, Carson made the tenuous analogy regarding whether it is genetic or a choice by stating, “A lot of people … go into prison straight, and when they come out they’re gay.” As the great statesman Admiral Gial Ackbar once said, “It’s a trap!”

After conservative heads thumped desks around the country – incredulous at how Carson’s analogy would help to further “Akinize” the Republican Party – Carson tried to walk back the remarks the next day by stating what he said “does not fully reflect my heart on gay issues.” He added, “I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended.”

But Carson fell into the trap deftly laid for him by a media searching for that “gotcha” moment they can use to paint all conservatives with the same brush. Just as most of the GOP hopefuls had to answer questions last month about Rudy Giuliani’s remarks regarding Barack Obama’s lack of love for America, now each will likely have to endure questions about sexual orientation thanks to Carson’s remarks. Never mind that the lackluster economy and foreign policy are far more pressing issues; if the media can shift the focus to social issues, they can trot out the tired old message about the “war on women” and Republicans being bigots and homophobes.

We know the Leftmedia give Republicans tougher questions – for example, you wouldn’t see Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden face a question on why their policies have consigned minority students to woefully underperforming schools or whether life begins at conception. But Carson then effectively egged on the media horde by declaring he won’t talk about the “gay rights” issue anymore. That insures his campaign will have to deal with this topic front and center for many months to come because the Leftmedia won’t take “no” for an answer – unless it involves information making a liberal look bad.

In Ben Carson, we have a very successful member of a minority group with a compelling story who happens to be conservative. That’s bad news for Democrats that count on the black population to give them 90% or more of their vote, and it’s a reason some observers would rather see Carson run for the suddenly open Senate seat in Maryland, based on his long history there and Maryland’s high minority population.

But the best part of Carson’s appeal is also the biggest problem he faces – the lack of political experience. You have to look back to Dwight Eisenhower to find a president who hadn’t held some sort of political office prior to winning election – and all Ike did was play a major role in winning a world war. Carson was a gifted neurosurgeon and certainly has appealing positions on a number of issues, but running for president presents a very steep learning curve where one won’t get a break because he’s “not a politician.”

All this is somewhat reminiscent of the Herman Cain campaign that caught fire in the fall of 2011 only to crash and burn amidst infidelity allegations a few months later. With an extremely deep and talented GOP field this time around, Carson supporters have to ask whether a neophyte can win. The conservative side won’t get the benefit of the media’s lack of curiosity we saw about Obama and his background, so the 2016 presidential race may be better run by an experienced hand. Otherwise, Ben Carson has to be much more prepared than he showed during his first few days on the trail.

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