Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson takes a selfie with Sherrie Duncan after the CNBC Republican presidential debate Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2015, at the Coors Event Center on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, Colo. (Jeremy Papasso/Daily Camera via AP)
Why do so many doctors, outside their examining and operating rooms, behave like right-wing fanatics?
Take, for example, Dr. Benjamin Solomon "Ben" Carson, the 64-year-old retired neurosurgeon now leading the ten-man field seeking the Republican presidential nomination. He's doing well, it seems to me, because in a field crammed with so many loudmouths, he is quiet, gentle, and charming. That's how he appeared Wednesday night in a raucous Republican debate in Boulder, Colorado.
Gail Collins in the New York Times got it right. "Because Carson's voice always sounds so moderate, responses that make no sense whatsoever can sound sort of thoughtful until you replay them in your head." Dr. Carson, Ms. Collins concluded, is "utterly loopy."
The rumble in Boulder was supposed to be about the economy, and Dr. Carson did take a hit or two about his proposal for a flat tax, a form of tithing, to pay for Federal spending. He insists closing loopholes would make the harebrained proposal, espoused in 1996 and 2000 by publisher Steve Forbes, to little avail, work. There's no evidence it would.
But that's not what makes Dr. Carson so loopy. Consider, for example, his Nazi analogies. "We live in a Gestapo age," he said last year, "people don't realize it." Or even worse, the United States has become "very much like Nazi Germany...the government using its tools to intimidate the population. We live in a society where people are afraid to say what they actually believe."
He said more recently that "the likelihood of Hitler being able to accomplish his goals would have been greatly diminished if the people had been armed," raising the image of millions of peaceful Jews standing up to Nazi tanks and Nazi storm troopers with rusty old pistols and shotguns.
Even more appalling is the fact that 77 percent of likely Republican caucus goers in Iowa said they found Dr. Carson's statement about the Nazis and guns attractive, according to a Bloomberg Politics/Des Moines Register poll.
Just as loopy was his suggestion that Obamacare is just "like slavery."
As time goes on, I suspect, voters will awaken to the fact that gentle Dr. Carson, for many years a celebrated surgeon at John Hopkins University, is, as Gail Collins says, loopy. They will also conclude, I think, that Donald Trump, while entertaining, is a bully and a loudmouth. The winners at Boulder seemed to be, by pundit consensus, Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.
"This is not a cage match," Senator Cruz said. But, of course, that's exactly what it was.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.