A popular Fox News commentator is among the critics blasting neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson for his tirade against President Obama’s policies at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., last week.
“Our politics have become so polarized and corrupted that a president of the United States cannot even attend an event devoted to drawing people closer to God and bridge partisan and cultural divides without being lectured about his policies,” wrote Cal Thomas—billed as America’s most widely syndicated newspaper columnist—in a commentary published Feb. 12 on FoxNews.com.
The annual event has a long tradition of being one of the only apolitical events in Washington, and organizers reportedly warn speakers to avoid political topics. However, Carson “went rogue” and “ambushed” the president, Thomas said, drowning out his own compelling story of striving past initial academic failure and poverty toward stunning professional success with his denunciations of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, national debt and taxation policies.
“His remarks were inappropriate for the occasion. It would have been just as inappropriate had he praised the president's policies. The president had a right to expect a different message about another Kingdom. I'm wondering if the president felt drawn closer to God, or bludgeoned by the Republican Party and the applauding conservatives in the audience,” Thomas later wrote, also suggesting that Carson could have voiced his objections backstage or asked for a meeting with the president.
“Carson should publicly apologize and stop going on TV doing ‘victory laps’ and proclaiming that reaction to his speech was overwhelmingly positive. That's not the point. While many might agree with his positions (and many others don't as shown by the November election results), voicing them at the National Prayer Breakfast in front of the president was the wrong venue,” the columnist concluded.
It seems unlikely that the pioneering physician will apologize, however. Since the controversy broke, Carson, director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, has made the round of news shows, defending his statements and decrying his liberal detractors, who said his statements were a bid for attention.
“We need to be able to discuss intelligent ways of solving the multitudinous problems that threaten to destroy our nation,” Carson told the host of Fox’s “Your World with Neil Cavuto.” And there are a group of people who would like to silence everybody, and have everybody go along to get along. But, that’s not going to be very helpful for us in the long run in terms of solving our problems. And somebody has to be courageous enough to stand up to the bullies.”
Carson, the 2008 recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, also fielded questions about a possible run for president.
“I’ve had people telling me that [I should run for president] for many years now. If I had a nickel for everybody who told me that I could finance my campaign,” he said. “If God grabs me by the collar and sticks me in that arena, that’s the only way I would do it.”