Ever since his stunning rebuke of Barack Obama at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., with the POS listening and seated close by, conservatives have clamored for black neurosurgeon Dr. Benjamin Solomon Carson, 63, to run for the presidency.
This morning, Carson tweeted that he is throwing his hat in the race by forming an exploratory committee, which means he’s soliciting campaign donations.
Before we get all enthusiastic about a Ben Carson presidency, we should know about the following:
1. Carson is for gun control
On March 1, 2013 on the Glenn Beck Show, Carson was asked by Beck if people should be allowed to own semi-automatic weapons. Carson responded: “It depends on where you live. I think if you live in the midst of a lot of people, and I’m afraid that that semi-automatic weapon is going to fall into the hands of a crazy person, I would rather you not have it.”
You can watch and listen to a video of Carson saying that by going to Real Clear Politics.
2. Carson spoke for a medical-supplement maker accused of false advertising
As National Review‘s Jim Geraghty points out, as recently as a year ago in March 2014, Carson appeared in a video for Mannatech, Inc., a Texas-based medical supplement maker. Smiling into the camera, he extolled the benefits of the Mannatech’s “glyconutrient” products, claiming they are “natural diet as a medicine or as a mechanism for maintaining health” and that the products would “restore” the “healthy food” that “God had made for us.”
Note: The “manna” of Mannatech probably is an allusion to the biblical “manna” or food from Heaven.
Carson’s interactions with Mannatech date back 10 years to 2004, when he was a speaker at the company’s annual conferences, MannaFest and MannaQuest. Since then, Carson had spoken at Mannatech conferences in 2011 and 2013, and extolled its “glyconutrients” in a PBS special as recently as last year in which he again praised “glyconutrients.”
In 1993, Samuel L. Caster founded Mannatech, mere months before Congress passed the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which greatly loosened restrictions on how supplement makers could market their products. Mannatech uses many of the same tactics previously described in lawsuits against Eagle Shield, Caster’s first company.
In November 2004, the mother of a 3-year-old child with Tay-Sachs disease who died after being treated with Mannatech products filed suit against the company in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent misrepresentation, and conspiracy to commit fraud. The suit alleged that:
- A Mannatech sales associate wrote an article in the Journal of the American Nutraceutical Association in August 1997, explicitly claiming that Mannatech’s supplements had improved the boy’s condition, even though the boy had, by that time, died.
- The associate also shared naked photos of the boy with hundreds of people at a Mannatech demonstration seminar. The boy’s mother had provided the associate with the photos as evidence of her son’s weight gain, with an understanding that they’d be kept confidential. In March 2004, the suit claimed, Mannatech was still using the photos in promotional materials on its website, “with the clear inference that [the boy] was alive and doing well some seven years after his actual death.”
In 2007, three years after Ben Carson’s first dealings with Mannatech, Texas attorney general Greg Abbott sued the company and its founder Caster, charging them with orchestrating an unlawful marketing scheme that exaggerated their products’ health benefits via:
- Testimonials from individuals claiming that they’d used Mannatech products to overcome serious diseases and ailments, including autism, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and life-threatening heart conditions.
- A CD entitled “Back from the Brink” that “provided example after example of how ‘glyconutrients’ (i.e., Mannatech’s products) cured, treated, or mitigated diseases including but not limited to toxic shock syndrome, heart failure, asthma, arthritis, Lou Gehrig’s Disease, Attention Deficit Disorder, and lung inflammation.”
- According to a 20/20 investigative report in 2007, Mannatech sales associates hawked the company’s signature drug, Ambrotose, which “costs at least $200 a month,” as “a miracle cure that could fix a broad range of diseases, from cancer to multiple sclerosis and AIDS.”
In 2009, the state of Texas reached a settlement with Mannatech. The company paid $4 million in restitution to Texas customers while admitting no wrongdoing. Caster agreed to a $1 million civil penalty and a five-year ban on serving as an officer, director, or employee of the company. Henceforth, Mannatech employees were prohibited from saying “directly or indirectly” that their products can “cure, treat, mitigate or prevent any disease,” and banned the use of customers’ testimonials making those claims.
But Carson’s interactions with Mannatech continued until at least March 2014, almost five years after the suit was settled, and a decade after the company’s marketing practices had first begun to come into question.
When asked about Carson’s appearances for Mannatech, his business manager Armstrong Williams says “I don’t know that he’s ever had a compensated relationship with Mannatech. All we know is that the Washington Speaker’s Bureau, which booked hundreds of speaking engagements for him through the year, booked these engagements. He had no idea who these people are. They’re booked through the speakers’ bureau. The question should be asked to the Washington Speakers Bureau, when did they have a relationship with Mannatech, because Dr. Carson never had one.” (At Washington Speakers Bureau, Carson is listed as a level-6 speaker, meaning his fee is more than $40,000 per speech.) Williams adds that Carson won’t personally be answering any questions about his interactions with the company, “because that is the decision that has been made.”
Writing for VDare, Jim Fulford warns:
This longing for a Republican Magic Negro has already given us the Herman Cain fiasco in the last Presidential cycle and the far more damaging Michael Steele RNC Chairmanship disaster after Obama’s first election–which allowed a scandal so deep that his [Steele’s] mentor the disgusting Reince Priebus had to grab the job himself to cover it up.
At the same time, however, I recall the Dr. Ben Carson at that 2013 National Prayer Breakfast — a cultural and economic conservative, and a Christian.
At that breakfast meeting, Dr. Carson began his keynote speech by quoting from the Bible. Then he excoriated the tyranny of political correctness, calling it a “dangerous” and “horrible thing” that had led to such ridiculous fears as wishing people “Merry Christmas.” Carson said political correctness muzzles us into a false “unanimity of thought” and “unanimity of expression” that prevents us from talking about the important things.
Carson also bemoaned the moral decay of Americans, and warned us of a Rome-like fate. Then, in front of Obama sitting just feet from the podium, Carson confronted the issue of America’s debt and current fiscal policy. He said:
“Our deficit is a big problem. Think about it — and our national debt — $16 and a half trillion dollars…. What about our taxation system — so complex there is no one that can possibly comply with every jot and tittle. When I pick up my Bible, you know what I see? I see the fairest individual in the universe — God — and he’s given us a system. It’s called tithe.”
To conclude, we don’t need and shouldn’t be looking for a political messiah to save us. We should carefully examine Dr. Ben Carson, as we should with every presidential candidate. Being human, they are all flawed. What is important is that we find out those flaws before jumping onto their presidential choo choo train with eyes wide shut.