Carson says remarks re Schiavo taken “out of context”

Dr. Ben Carson (photo by Ellen Kolb)
Dr. Ben Carson (photo by Ellen Kolb)

I wasn’t the only voter whose eyebrows went way up after Dr. Ben Carson’s made his recent remarks regarding Terri Schiavo. He gave an exclusive interview to LifeSiteNews earlier this week to address the furor.

“I am steadfastly opposed to euthanasia. I have spent my entire career protecting life, especially the life of children….I regret that my recent comments about Terri Schiavo have been taken out of context and misinterpreted. When I used the term ‘much ado about nothing,’ my point was that the media tried to create the impression that the pro-life community was nutty and going way overboard with the support of the patient.”

The article continued, “[Dr. Carson] told LifeSiteNews that his off-the-cuff remarks to a reporter from the Tampa Bay Times meant that doctors should allow terminally ill patients to refuse heroic medical treatment, not to deny food and water to someone diagnosed in a persistent vegetative state (PVS).”

I’m pleased that the good doctor acknowledged the concerns raised by his earlier remarks. My particular concerns expressed in an earlier post persist. If what he means is that he flat-out refuses to tolerate starvation for patients with brain damage, that’s good news.

 

Brief comments on Jindal, Bush and Carson

I’ve surprised myself by not picking a presidential candidate yet. I usually jump on board with someone early. I’m starting to lean, which is to say I’m down to three names. Maybe four.

A few things about current candidates have come to mind this week.

  • With Gov. Bobby Jindal at Red State Gathering, 2013.
    With Gov. Bobby Jindal at Red State Gathering, 2013.

    My best wishes to Bobby Jindal, who has just suspended his campaign. (By the way, candidates, enough with this “suspended” business. Just once I’d like to hear a departing candidate simply say “I’m outta here.”) I’m interested in what’s next for the man who met Planned Parenthood protests by publicly showing the Center for Medical Progress videos on the lawn of the governor’s mansion in Louisiana.

  • I am not a Jeb Bush partisan at this point, but I hope the people who are pounding him – have you seen his poll numbers? – recall his refusal as Florida governor to participate in the starvation of Terri Schiavo in 2005. I honor him for that, whatever real or perceived defects he might have as a presidential candidate.
  • …which brings me to Dr. Ben Carson, who as near as I can tell is a fine and gifted man who spent decades saving children’s lives. Full marks for that. He’s off my short list, though – until and unless there’s a retraction – thanks to these remarks he made a few days ago about the death of Terri Schiavo, as reported by the Washington Post: “‘We face those kinds of issues all the time and while I don’t believe in euthanasia, you have to recognize that people that are in that condition do have a series of medical problems that occur that will take them out….Your job [as a doctor] is to keep them comfortable throughout that process and not to treat everything that comes up.’ When the reporter asked whether Carson thought it was necessary for Congress to intervene, he said: ‘I don’t think it needed to get to that level. I think it was much ado about nothing.'”
Dr. Ben Carson at CPAC 2013. Photo by Ellen Kolb.
Dr. Ben Carson at CPAC 2013. Photo by Ellen Kolb.

Let that one roll around your brain for awhile. “That condition,” for Ms. Schiavo, was a brain injury. “Not treat everything that comes up”: you mean like removal of her feeding tube? That isn’t something that “comes up.” It’s something that was imposed. Schiavo died 13 days after her nutrition and hydration were withdrawn. (“Take them out,” indeed.) I’m not a fan of the death penalty, least of all when disability is the reason for imposing it.

True confession: I’m not likely to pick up a Democratic ballot in February (indie voter, open primary), unless I see a tactical advantage in doing so. Requiring humans to be “wanted” before a right to life attaches, promoting compulsory public support for abortion providers, opposition to Little Sisters of the Poor in their resistance to the HHS mandate: I’ll pass. Don’t preen, GOP; two words: “capital punishment.”

In which Dr. Ben Carson wows the crowd and the Tea Party gets its due: CPAC 2013 day 3

So Rand Paul won the CPAC straw poll, squeaking out a victory over Marco Rubio, with no other contender coming close. Good to see two pro-life politicians scoring big. I’d feel even better if I thought their pro-life stands accounted for the 1-2 finish.

On this last day of CPAC, I left early so I could do some sightseeing. I was sorry to miss Sarah Palin, but while I was there, some powerful pro-life speakers graced the main stage. Here was one speaker after another asserting the importance of the life issues. Here were top-tier speakers criticizing the HHS mandate and calling out the current Administration for its attacks on religious freedom. Here were people who get it.

Jenny Beth Martin of the Tea Party Patriots opened the program, with the room half-full, but that half was wildly enthusiastic. Just when I thought she was going to give ten dreary minutes on the debt and the evils of financial profligacy, she segued into the “Affordable” Care Act and skewered it.

Jenny Beth Martin
Jenny Beth Martin

“The Affordable Care Act is a con, callous and cruel. People will die under this law.” She exhorted her listeners to fight for life and liberty. She made no reference to the GOP. I’d sum her up this way: fight for liberty, and let the GOP figure out where it stands on that.

Michele Bachmann was returned to Congress last November by her Minnesota district. She hasn’t lost her edge. By the time she took the stage, the hall was nearly full, and she knew how to work that crowd.

Cong. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Cong. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

Rare among speakers, she attacked President Obama by name (not just saying “the Administration” or “the Democrats”) for one bad policy after another. With the notable exception of Marco Rubio, she was the only top-tier speaker I heard to cover many bases in her allotted fifteen minutes rather than stick to one topic. She was nearly drowned out by applause several times. She definitely understands the threat to religious freedom posed by Obamacare, and she knows how to sound an alarm.

By 10:00, the room was packed and the media pen was busy. Everyone wanted to hear from Dr. Ben Carson, who so memorably used the National Prayer Breakfast to take the President to task when the President was only two seats away.

Carson took the stage along with author Eric Metaxas, and Metaxas got to go first. He launched straight into the current attacks on religious freedom. “We are not talking about freedom of worship, which is radically different from freedom of religion.” He encouraged listeners to read and sign the Manhattan Declaration (read it here), which was drafted and signed by numerous American religious leaders of a variety of faiths who were troubled about the increasing pressure to render to Caesar those things which are properly God’s, beginning with individual conscience. Regarding the HHS mandate, Metaxas asserted “it has everything to do with religious freedom.” He said that even though he is not Catholic, he must defend the religious principles of Catholics who are fighting the mandate.

He went on to recognize that legal redefinitions of marriage are also attacks on religious freedom. He asked aloud today a question that has concerned me for quite awhile: “what is the government going to do to churches that dissent from the redefinition of marriage?” He noted that the GOP inexplicably failed to make the case for religious freedom in the last election. “We’ve been so blessed with religious freedom that we hardly recognize what it is anymore.”

Dr. Carson then took the microphone and quipped, “Eric made it unnecessary for me to talk about political correctness.” His style is far less fiery than that of Bachmann or Martin, but he had the crowd in the palm of his hand on the strength of his Prayer Breakfast speech. If you heard that speech, then you already know the substance of his talk today. It was interesting to hear him describe the wide range of responses he got to that speech. There was a lot of support, of course, “but I also got nasty-grams calling me the n-word for challenging the President.”

Dr. Ben Carson
Dr. Ben Carson

By way of advice, he said conservatives need to be proactive rather than reactive. He offered as an example the scholarship fund he and his wife set up 17 years ago for kids who do well academically and who also do humanitarian work. No whining, he seemed to be saying; get out there and work. “Americans have always been generous. We take care of our own. It is not the government’s responsibility, it is our responsibility.”  He further advised, “We have to resist this war on God.”

Carson is retiring from medical practice in June, and Metaxas asked him about his plans. Carson was coy. That tells me he’s planning to test the presidential waters, as if the Prayer Breakfast speech hadn’t already established that.

Thus ends my three-day report from the field. Tomorrow I’ll be back home, ready to tell our home crew of legislators what to do. It’s been interesting, though, to hear from the people who will be coming to New Hampshire before 2016 in search of volunteers and money and votes. I hope we’ll welcome them, listen politely to their pitches, and then insist on a firm stand on the right to life.