Ben Carson is on a crusade – a mission – to argue that he is being unfairly targeted by the mainstream media. He is not. What he is going through is what people go through when they decide to run to become the leader of the free world, otherwise known as President of the United States.
The only reason Ben Carson is a name on the national political scene is because of the extraordinary personal story he has told time and time again about how he grew up on the rough and tough streets of Detroit and how he overcame improbable odds to become a respected neurosurgeon and a man of faith. I respect Ben Carson as a physician, and I absolutely respect his faith. But once he decided to run for president, he needed to understand that everything he has said about himself was fair game. This includes his alleged violent past, some sketchy offer he is convinced he got for a “full scholarship” to West Point, some crazy story about Egypt’s pyramids being used to store grain, rather than the interment of ancient pharaohs, and him bragging about protecting some white students in 1968 from riots in Detroit after Martin Luther King’s assassination, but there is no evidence to substantiate his alleged heroism.
Here is the deal—right now Ben Carson has chosen to play the victim—to protest just a little too much, in fact, to protest a lot. To point the finger at the media about why we don’t want to know more about Barack Obama is ridiculous. What about Barack Obama (having to prove that he is in fact a US citizen), Hillary Clinton (the stream of questions about her past are endless and in most cases, legitimate), Donald Trump (what is the deal with all those bankruptcies?) Joe Biden (you remember Biden dropped out of a previous presidential run because it was found out that he had plagiarized part of his stump speech?) Carly Fiorina (being fired as CEO of Hewlett-Packard) Marco Rubio and his use of the Florida Republican state party credit card or Chris Christie (Bridgegate?) …
You want to argue that it is not fair or you don’t want to answer those questions, Ben Carson? Then don’t run for President. Further, if all the stories that you’ve told about yourself are true, then provide some evidence that they are. If you embellished, say so. If you told a fib, it means you are imperfect like the rest of us. But whatever you do, stop playing the victim because real leaders—strong leaders—don’t do that. It makes you look weak. It makes you look like a cry-baby. It doesn’t make you look like a problem solver or someone who can stand up to the challenge.
If Ben Carson can’t stand up and handle questions from the media about the stories he has told about who he is and how he got there, then how could he possibly stand up in a presidential press conference and answer questions from the Washington Press Corps explaining the decisions he’s made as President or the policy positions he has taken? The bottom line is that while the process of running for president is far from perfect and in many ways, can be degrading and discourages many good people from entering the fray, it does reveal a great deal about the mental and emotional toughness of those who seek this high office.
While Ben Carson may have had the temperament to be a terrific neurosurgeon, I would argue what he has shown in the past couple of weeks in having to respond to direct questions about his own public statements graphically reveal that he has the wrong temperament to lead our country and be president. One of the greatest lessons in leadership is to know who you are—your strengths and your weaknesses—and to put yourself in a position to succeed. With this in mind, either Dr. Ben Carson goes through some amazing metamorphosis or personality change or he quickly realizes that he is not cut out to continue on this rough and tumble path in which he doesn’t get to choose the questions he gets asked in a very public arena because great leaders must have a very thick skin.
NOW… YOUR TURN: What are YOUR thoughts about Ben Carson and how he is handling pressure from the media? Write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org .