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Black Doctor Stepped in over His Head

Askia Muhammad | 4/3/2013, 4:24 p.m.

Dr. Ben Carson is a brilliant neurosurgeon. He is director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University. He was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2008.

I first learned of Dr. Carson a decade and a half ago, because his brilliant career in a difficult scientific field, after being reared by a single mom on the mean streets of Detroit is proof positive that any person can excel in even a difficult field if he or she puts his or her mind to it, regardless of race or humble beginnings.

He made the medical world stand up and take notice when he successfully separated Siamese-twins, children conjoined at the head. His medical accomplishments deserve the admiration of us all.

There is idle talk in conservative circles that Dr. Carson might even be a formidable Republican presidential candidate. Hold it right there, however.

In the first place it's just been a little more than two months since President Barack Obama was sworn in for his second term. He's got three and a half years left in office before the next election, so nobody needs to start measuring the drapes in the Oval Office and looking at carpeting and upholstery samples.

No one who is being talked about this far from the time Americans will choose the next president can possibly remain in serious contention until 2016 and keep a day job. So it is with conservative darling Ben Carson.

Dr. Carson has already committed a political-career-ending blunder. After winning favor with conservatives at the National Prayer Breakfast in February, he stepped into waters above his head recently on a Fox News program in response to a question about same-sex marriage. He opposed it, and compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia. He went too far.

Students at his own medical school where he has worked and distinguished himself for more than 30 years rose up in protest over the school's invitation to Carson to be this year's commencement speaker. They protested him at his own medical school! Rather than further fan the flames there, he wisely withdrew himself as a speaker, illustrating the validity of the "Peter Principle." That is, in a meritocracy, folks tend to rise to the level of their incompetence, and no higher. Ben Carson, hello glass ceiling.

But I have some words for the right-wing zealots who feigned infatuation with Dr. Carson for one reason, and one reason only, because he's a Black man, and by pretending to embrace him Republicans could once again proclaim that the United States is now a "post-racial" society. Bunk.

Granted, Ben Carson is a far more accomplished individual than the previous African American Republican "flavor-of-the-month," pizza magnate Herman Cain, or the one before that, Dr. Alan Keyes. But none of those men have ever been elected to any public office. They are untried. They are rank political novices, and they each demonstrated their naivete by fixing their mouths to say they thought they could be the GOP nominee to be president of the United States. Such flawed thinking alone disqualifies them from serious consideration as being "qualified" to lead this country.