Ben Carson: Quiet demeanor, but strong and decisive

The quality of Carson's leadership is not his ability to bluster and bully and strut across a stage, but to look death in the eye and then plan its defeat.


WASHINGTON, February 1, 2016 — Until recently, Dr. Ben Carson was viewed by many as the kind of person our country needs to address our country’s problems. After the terrorist attacks in Paris and California, some took a step back, wondering, “Carson is so soft-spoken; how could he be a military leader?”

Much has been said about the GOP presidential candidates’ preparedness to be Commander in Chief of the United States military, as it should be. Leading the world’s greatest military power is not a responsibility to take lightly.

What could prepare someone for that kind of responsibility? Political experience? President Obama has seemingly made decisions primarily according to his political views. He has forced resignations of military leaders with invaluable experience that our country needs right now. The regions where we are in conflict are in shambles; nothing seems to be going right for our military. Perhaps politics and military directions aren’t all that compatible.

What would prepare someone to make that most difficult decision, to send young men and women into harm’s way knowing that some will die? Ted Cruz and Chris Christie are former prosecutors. They have made important decisions on whether and how to prosecute criminals. Yet prosecution really is pretty black and white. A prosecutor compares evidence of criminal activity with relevant laws and decides whether to take a case to court. This is an important job that we want done well, but it doesn’t compare with life and death decisions.

Some presidential candidates have served as governors. They have made serious executive decisions and they have the authority to call out the National Guard. Their decisions may have significant impact on the people they serve, but they don’t send kids to war. They make a life-or-death decision when they commute a death sentence, but this doesn’t compare with the decision to put the lives of those who serve this country in harm’s way.

A member of the U.S. Senate or the House of Representatives might be prepared for the job of Commander in Chief. They may serve on committees that deal with national security issues. But they don’t make executive decisions. They may support legislation that will provide our military with the tools they need to do their important work. They may be familiar with military strategies and some of the dangers around the world.

Butt they don’t make that tough decision to send our military to sacrifice themselves for our nation.

A business career? Not many would argue that a career in business prepares one for such grave responsibility.

Only two things could prepare someone to make the life-and-death decisions of a Commander in Chief: a military career; or another career involving regular life and death decisions.

None of the current GOP candidates is a former military commander. Only one has made regular life-and-death decisions.

Dr. Ben Carson spent 35 years helping families make life-and-death decisions for their children. His decisions didn’t involve well-trained volunteers; they dealt with children who could do nothing to save themselves. Carson made decisions at the cutting edge of medical possibility. The risks and the stakes were wrenching. He pondered the alternatives, discussed them with childrens’ families, then developed battle plans to save their lives.

People who think that Carson is too soft-spoken may be confusing leaders with drill sergeants. When making that ultimate decision, neither the volume of one’s voice nor the enthusiasm with which one speaks determines the quality of leadership. That comes from steel in the spine and calm, collected calculation.

In Reykjavik, Iceland, at the high stakes summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan did not lose his temper when Gorbachev demanded more than he was willing to give. He simply got up from his chair, walked around the table and whispered “nyet” in Gorbachev’s ear and walked away from the table.

Strength is not found in shouting or resumes; it is in principle and resolve. Ben Carson has both. We see it in the quiet dignity of his campaign, and in his confidence in the wisdom of the American people. In him we see a man who can listen to others, weigh risks and rewards, then with a clear mind make a decision that could save a child or bring devastation to a family.

Ben Carson has done this his entire career. He is ready to lead our military.

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