"Nasty, petty and ill-informed": Tea Party hero Ben Carson’s looniest beliefs

Neurosurgeon-turned-pundit says he's likely to run for president. Here are the views America will see on display

Published September 23, 2014 9:59PM (EDT)

  (Reuters/Mike Theiler)
(Reuters/Mike Theiler)

Neurosurgeon-turned-conservative pundit Ben Carson wants you to know — or, at least, to think — that he’s running for president in 2016.

Speaking with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Monday, Carson suggested he’d run for president if Republicans did well in the upcoming midterm elections.

“Unless the American people indicate in November that they like Big Government intervention in every part of their lives, I think the likelihood [of a presidential bid] is strong,” Carson told Hewitt.

Carson rose to right-wing stardom after his 2013 address before the National Prayer Breakfast, when, with President Obama sitting just a few feet away, he slammed Obamacare as overweening government run amok. It wasn’t long before conservatives touted Carson as a “dream candidate” in 2016; a Draft Ben Carson super PAC and a job at Fox News soon followed.

But while Carson’s tirades against the president may endear him to the Tea Party right and its media apparatus, he’s articulated positions that are all but certain to make him anathema to the American electorate at large — not that Carson, who likely sees a presidential run as more of a business opportunity than a serious bid for the Oval Office, particularly cares.

There’s no doubt that Carson’s tale of rising from poverty to Yale University and a professorship at Johns Hopkins University is inspiring; Jesse Jackson praised Carson in 1990 as “a model of all the youth of today.” But Carson has no qualms about dismantling the social safety net and other avenues of upward mobility; he’s called for abolishing Medicare and Medicaid, wants to replace public welfare programs with the whims of private charity, and supports a regressive flat tax system.

Meanwhile, Carson’s views on social issues are extreme enough to satisfy even the most discriminating troglodyte. Abortion, he says, is “human sacrifice,” and his rabid attacks on the LGBT community have landed him in hot water with former Johns Hopkins colleagues, one of whom called his comparison of homosexuality with pedophilia and bestiality “nasty, petty, and ill-informed.” Last winter, Carson applauded anti-gay Russian President Vladimir Putin for his statement that the U.S. had become a “godless” hotbed of hedonism, although by this summer Carson was assailing Obama for his “rudderless” policy toward Russia.

And while Carson might be a famed neurosurgeon, he doesn’t want you to get to thinking he’d go so far as to accept the theory of evolution. “Evolution and creationism both require faith,” Carson has said. “It’s just a matter of where you choose to place that faith.”

Most recently, Carson weighed in on NFL player Ray Rice’s beating of his then-fiancée — by calling on people not to “jump on the bandwagon of demonizing this guy.”

Assuming Carson proceeds with his plans to enter the 2016 field — and maintains his penchant for unhinged rhetoric and extreme policy proposals —it’s safe to expect Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus to intensify his push for fewer GOP primary debates.

By Luke Brinker

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