Politics isn’t brain surgery but, as humorist Finley Peter Dunne famously pointed out, it ain’t beanbag either.
Dr. Ben Carson, the pediatric neurosurgeon turned conservative cause celeb, learned that simple truth after experiencing fallout from his explanation to freelance journalist Evan Gahr why President Obama’s health care law has been more hurtful to the United States than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
On Friday morning, Carson—who came in a close second to Sen. Ted Cruz in last weekend’s Republican Leadership Conference presidential straw poll—went into damage control mode. He issued a statement dissociating himself from his controversial remarks, which were quoted on Thursday in The Daily Beast from a May 23 interview with Gahr.
“I want to be clear and set the record straight: I don’t think Obamacare is worse than 9/11,” Carson said in his statement. “The two things aren’t comparable and I never intended to compare them. Let’s stop sidelining important issues and move forward with intelligent and open discussions on how to solve America’s problems for the sake and benefit of the American people.”
Carson, whose political manifesto, One Nation, is No. 1 on the New York Times’s Hardcover Nonfiction Bestseller List, has frequently claimed that Obamacare is worse than slavery. During a contentious back and forth, Gahr asked him, “You said Obamacare was the worst thing that has happened to this country since slavery. Why do you think it was worse than 9/11?” Carson answered:r“Because 9/11 is an isolated incident.”
Carson elaborated: “Things that are isolated issues as opposed to things that fundamentally change the United States of America and shift power from the people to the government. That is a huge shift.”
He added: “You have to take a long-term look at the ascent of something that fundamentally changes the power structure of America. You have to be someone who reads—who is well-read. I want you to go back tonight. I want you to pull out what [community organizer and writer] Saul Alinsky says about health care under the control of the government.”
The Daily Beast posted an audio recording of Carson’s interview with Gahr. The Mediaite website, which published Carson’s statement, reported that Carson “got into hot water” for his remarks.