Outspoken conservative activist Ben Carson was criticized by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank for incendiary comments that have kept the retired neurosurgeon in the spotlight as he gears up for a possible White House run.
Carson received a standing ovation on Wednesday from devoted followers during a speech at a National Press Club luncheon in Washington. He said God’s plan for him was to teach Americans that "our strength is in our unity and we need to stop fighting each other."
"What a noble sentiment!" Milbank wrote in a column headlined "Ben Carson, doctor of division."
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"And how much nobler it would be if Carson’s time on the national stage hadn’t been devoted to exactly the opposite," Milbank wrote. "He’s a celebrity because he drives the very divisions he claims to abhor."
The columnist denounced Carson’s fiery invective for having deliberately fueled discord on Capitol Hill since his speech attacking President Barack Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast last year turned him into an overnight conservative talisman.
"In the 16 months since his speech…he has drawn a parallel between same-sex marriage, and pedophilia and bestiality," Milbank wrote. "He has declared the United States 'very much like Nazi Germany'; he has likened Obamacare to slavery; and he has called the veterans’ health-care scandal…'a gift from God' because it shows the ills of government health care."
Milbank condemned Carson for impugning the patriotism of journalists, claiming that they often have their own political agenda in their reports.
Calling for journalists to show their "loyalty" to America instead of to political parties, Carson said in his speech that "slick politicians and dishonest media" are "in the process of destroying our nation."
Milbank wrote that Carson had no such reservations about his own loyalty while working as a contributor for Fox News.
The Post writer also wrote that Carson claimed that he never says "horrible things about the president" shortly after he used a biblical reference to attack the Obama administration, saying, "If a ruler hearkens to lies, all his servants are wicked."
Milbank then criticized Carson for stating during the luncheon that it was "not fair at all" nearly 50 percent of Americans don’t pay federal income tax, "but they should have a say in how much" the other half pays. By his reasoning, Milbank wrote, only the wealthy would be allowed to vote.
"Political correctness may be annoying, but it isn’t genocide," Milbank wrote. "A brilliant mind such as Carson’s surely grasps that distinction. But Carson is also clever enough to know that subtlety won’t bring him stardom. For that, he needs to stoke animosity and division."
The Washington Times
reported that Carson, who has admitted that he’s contemplating a presidential run in 2016, would not make commitment to a party in his speech. He pointed out that in the past he’s been a "flaming liberal Democrat" and a "very conservative Republican, although for the time being he’s an independent.
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