Americans have long harbored a fixation with the “citizen politician” who rides to the rescue in Washington. Ronald Reagan used that phrase to describe himself—but in 1966. The Gipper’s detour was Sacramento, where he served two terms as governor of the largest state in the Union. Even Reagan’s good friend Jimmy Stewart, playing the upstanding Jefferson Smith in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” started in the Senate, not the Oval Office. I wish that Ben Carson, whom it’s impossible not to like, was running for the Senate. He’d be a standout.
I thought of this while watching Carson at his lectern last Wednesday. The backdrop at the picturesque Simi Valley library was worthy of Frank Capra—or Reagan image-maker Mike Deaver. Framing the camera shots behind the candidates was Air Force One, Reagan’s plane, now resting in the Reagan museum. Does Ben Carson fancy that he could actually fly that Boeing 707? Not ride in it: pilot the plane himself. Do Fiorina and Trump?
Or would any of the three political novices allow, say, Chris Christie or Jeb Bush, to perform brain surgery on them? The answer is: of course not. So why is politics the only profession in which it’s logical to start at the very top? Would Ben Carson advise an aspiring physician to skip medical school because he doesn’t like the way the nation’s health care system is run?