Gifted Hands and Graceless Gaffes: The Improbable Candidacy of Ben Carson

World-renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson’s calm, measured manner has him surging in the polls. But will a lifetime of achievement ultimately be overshadowed by a string of massive political gaffes?

That Ben Carson is a gifted, even brilliant surgeon is undisputed. Before entering the political realm, he enjoyed a long and thoroughly impressive medical career at Johns Hopkins; after separating conjoined twins and making tremendous strides in the treatment of various pediatric neurological conditions, Dr. Carson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush. In fact, Carson was in the midst of a seven-hour surgery when he was notified that he would receive the award.

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Although Dr. Carson’s career has been an inspirational journey, his trip down the campaign trail has proved bumpier. As with Donald Trump, many of Carson’s supporters like him precisely because he’s a “Washington outsider.” But Candidate Carson is often known more for his inflammatory statements than for his proposed policy initiatives.

Despite his political inexperience, Carson had been on track to overtake Trump as Republican front-runner, but the revelation that he may have been less than truthful about his West Point admission combined with a recent threat to leave the Republican party may prove an insurmountable blow to his Presidential campaign– a campaign that, for many, has already sullied Carson’s legacy.

An extraordinary life

It’s easy to see why people are inspired by Ben Carson. While he lacks political expertise, Carson’s story reads like a Hollywood screenplay (Hollywood noticed, by the way; Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., was released in 2009).

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Carson and his brother Curtis were raised by their mother in inner-city Detroit. Mrs. Carson, one of 24 children, had only a third-grade education and married her husband, Robert Carson, a Seventh-day Adventist minister, when she was just 13. When their children were 8 and 10 years old, Mrs. Carson left her husband; as it turned out, Robert had been living a double life with another family that he had kept secret.

Young Ben Carson was constantly bullied in school and became deeply frustrated. He developed a violent temper and claims to have actually tried to stab one of his classmates before making the decision to turn his life around (this part of his story is currently in dispute). Carson describes locking himself in his room and praying for God to 

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