'The Brain Surgeon'

WILTON, IA - NOVEMBER 22:  Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to guests at a barbeque hosted by Jeff Kauffma
WILTON, IA - NOVEMBER 22: Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson speaks to guests at a barbeque hosted by Jeff Kauffman, chairman of the Republican party of Iowa, on November 22, 2015 in Wilton, Iowa. The event, which was also attended by rival candidate Carly Fiorina, was one of three scheduled campaign stops for Carson in Iowa today. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I am trying to understand Dr. Ben Carson's political appeal. I don't understand it. He has never said anything that would make me immediately say, "This man must be our next president." To be honest, I've never heard anyone say, "His policies line up with my thinking." He certainly isn't a compelling speaker, certainly not a charismatic man. So what is it?

A friend said it was because he is, or was, a brain surgeon. Maybe that's the answer. We are, without question, impressed by his ability to operate on brains. If Dr. Carson was an orthopedic surgeon, would we be as impressed? I don't think so. We don't seem particularly excited that Rand Paul was an ophthalmologist. It's good enough to be a senator, I guess, but not a president. A urologist won't get you elected to the highest office. A heart surgeon seems impressive; maybe it would help if you ran for governor, but not the presidency. Ear, nose, and throat doctor? Don't even think about running. Nothing has the cache of a brain surgeon.

That's Dr. Ben Carson's great appeal. It even allows him to say outrageously goofy things and get away with it. Could Hillary Clinton say that the pyramids were used to store wheat and then still be considered a credible candidate for the presidency? The comment borders on lunacy, but it was said by a brain surgeon, so he gets a pass. Maybe Dr. Carson knows something we don't know. Maybe they'll find some seeds on the floor of a pyramid and prove him right. The examination of these pyramids has only been going on for over a thousand years, not necessarily enough time to look on the floor for seeds... If Dr. Ben Carson was a proctologist, he would be quickly proclaimed a nut case. We have to give the brain surgeon the benefit of the doubt.

We must think someone who operates on the brain has to be smarter than someone who operates on any other part of the body. In fact, it's one of the very few occupations that actually seems to impress us. If you took a brain surgeon to a party and introduced that person, everyone would be suitably impressed... And because you brought the brain surgeon, they would think more highly of you. They would probably think that you must be very smart as well. After all, brain surgeons only hang around with very smart people, or so we've been lead to believe.

But here's a question: why doesn't the brain surgeon seem to know about foreign affairs? "Eh, he can catch up, he's smart," some will say. But wait, why doesn't he already know about this subject? That, apparently, is an unfair question, a "gotcha" question. If someone worked at a dry cleaners and had no special insight into foreign affairs, would we vote for that person? Because he pressed our clothing nicely? Even if the dry cleaner was Phi Beta Kappa, would we vote for that person to be the President of the United States? Joe the Plumber had his moment, some were excited -- but he faded quickly once they found out he wasn't really a plumber... but then again, a plumber is no brain surgeon, even though they charge high rates. I know a nutritionist who is extremely well-informed, brilliant, actually. Full
of wonderful ideas, but she wouldn't have a chance to be the president. We aren't in awe of a nutritionist. All they do is provide ways to help our well-being, not nearly as impressive as a brain surgeon.

Maybe we're just too frustrated with past presidents, so we're looking for someone completely new and different. Some other type of president, perhaps. Maybe a president with good hand-eye coordination. Someone I know who is very much against Dr. Ben Carson's run for the presidency said, "Running the government of the United States may appear to be difficult, but let's face it. It's not brain surgery."