When CNN hosts the first Democratic Presidential debate on Tuesday, the first question could be easy:
“Do you think Ben Carson is an amusingly incompetent amateur or a dangerously disturbed gun nut?”
Dr. Carson, a former brain surgeon and current Republican Presidential candidate, added to his long list of alarming statements Sunday when interviewed by John Dickerson on Face the Nation on CBS.
In a discussion of guns and comments in Dr. Carson’s new book about gun confiscation, Mr. Dickerson asked Dr. Carson, “Who wants to confiscate all the guns of American citizens?”
Dr. Carson replied, “In case of an invasion by a foreign power, the people will be able to aid the military. And if we have a time where we have the wrong people in office and they want to dominate the people, the people will be able to defend themselves.”
It sounded as if Dr. Carson was envisioning armed revolution by people who oppose their elected leaders. As is often the case with Dr. Carson’s extremist statements, it was made calmly and with no visible emotion.
Much later in the show, during a panel discussion, Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post had the presence of mind to parse Dr. Carson’s words about using guns to remove “the wrong people” from office.
“I would like to say that the solution in America – when we have the wrong people in office – is called elections,” Ms. Marcus said. “We have a democracy. Ben Carson is a fascinating candidate. His demeanor seems so reasonable. He’s a physician. We respect that. What comes out of his mouth – “
She was interrupted by Ben Domenech, publisher of The Federalist.
“But Ruth,” Mr. Domenech said, “that’s what the founding generation said about guns.”
Mr. Dickerson interjected, “No, no, that’s not what they said” while Ms. Marcus said to Mr. Domenech, “Let me just finish.”
Then she finished with a clear-eyed and clear-eared analysis of Dr. Carson.
“What comes out of his mouth about guns and about other things is remarkably radical,” she said.
Ron Fournier of the National Journal added: “What he’s basically doing is putting a target on government officials. And I think that’s irresponsible for presidential candidates.”
Mr. Domenech continued to defend Dr. Carson. “I don’t think that’s a call for armed insurrection,” he said. Mr. Fournier replied that Dr. Carson’s words were “veiled threats.”
Here are the highlights and lowlights from the other shows.
BEST INTERVIEW: On CNN’s State of the Union, Jake Tapper interviewed Brad Podliska, an Air Force Reserve intelligence officer who departed the special House Benghazi committee because, he said, it was turning into a mission by Republicans to smear Hillary Clinton — the former Secretary of State and Democratic Presidential candidate — over the murders of four Americans in Libya. Mr. Podliska described himself as a conservative Republican.
BEST “OOPS” QUOTE: On ABC’s This Week, Louisiana governor and Presidential candidate Bobby Jindal said Republicans in the U.S. Senate should shed the filibuster policy to get more of what they want. “Use the nuclear option to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power,” he said.
RED MEAT TREAT: Gov. Jindal, again, on ABC, about ISIS: “These are radical Islamic terrorists that are burning people alive, crucifying and killing Christians and other religious minorities and we can’t negotiate with them. We have to hunt them down and kill them before they attack us here . . . If this President were serious, we could wipe them out.”
NASTY FACEOFF: Two Republican congressmen sparred on NBC’s Meet the Press. Charlie Dent of Pennsylvania was the moderate; David Brat of Virginia was the radical. They demonstrated the fracture in their party. “You’re missing it, Charlie,” Mr. Brat said. “You want (Democratic House leader) Nancy Pelosi to be in and you want to kick us conservatives out of our own conference.”
FOX VOX: Examining the Republican rift on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) about how the “Freedom Caucus” is being called the “Hell, no!” caucus and the “Suicide” caucus. When Mr. Jordan interrupted him, Mr. Wallace said “Let me finish the question.” After he did, Mr. Jordan replied: “Let’s not forfeit to the White House before the ref blows the whistle.” On the same show, former Speaker Newt Gingrich said “If you are a Republican conservative, you wake up every morning furious.”
CHEAP SHOTS: On Fox’s MediaBuzz with Howard Kurtz, the host asked Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump about a rival for the nomination, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. “Marco has had tremendous problems with his credit card,” Mr. Trump said. Later, Mr. Kurtz asked reporter Molly Ball of The Atlantic about Carly Fiorina’s debt from her California Senate campaign in 2010. “She’s not telling the truth,” Ms. Ball said. “She left all these vendors high and dry for years and years.” And when Mr. Kurtz suggested journalists were smearing Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) with rumors of an extra-marital affair just as he withdrew from the race to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, Ms. Ball replied: “How do we report that story accurately while sort of ignoring the elephant in the room?”
Disclosure: Donald Trump is the father-in-law of Jared Kushner, the publisher of Observer Media.