You don’t have to be a secular humanist to find the Annual Prayer Breakfast boring—it’s been boring for decades. In case you’re not up on the details, suffice it that the Breakfast was founded in 1953 by the equally boring Abraham Vereide, a staunch Methodist clergyman who emigrated (legally) from Norway and founded Goodwill Industries in Seattle. Every president since Dwight David Eisenhower has participated in the Breakfast, which has somehow been passed over thus far by the despisers of America’s Judeo/Christian heritage who so energetically scour the nation’s courthouses for Christian symbols or inscriptions requiring removal in the name of the first amendment, or declare themselves psychologically damaged by the knowledge that children are somewhere pledging allegiance to a nation “under God” in federally subsidized classrooms. In stark contrast to the secularist groundswell that ripped the ten commandments out of Judge Roy Moore’s courthouse in 2003, or which just recently inspired Louisiana State University to airbrush away the crosses worn on the necks of “the painted posse,” a cheer-leading faction of football fans who paint their bodies with LSU colors but who cannot, evidently, be seen in LSU email advertisements with their Christian identities shamelessly exhibited, the annual Prayer Breakfast has simply gone on year after year without much harassment from the Left, partially because it is so boresomely unremarkable that almost nobody notices it, and partially because it gives Democratic presidents a chance to look at least vaguely religious for the voters.
The breakfast is held each year at this time in the Ballroom of the D.C. Hilton and typically draws around 3,500 guests including foreign dignitaries, social butterflies, and massive numbers of politicians who would clearly prefer to be elsewhere. It is newsworthy only insofar as it exists and occurs—year after year speakers as varied as Tony Blair, Bono, and Mother Teresa have key-noted the festivities. In fact, the last time anyone can recall the National Prayer Breakfast being in any true respect noteworthy was way back in the early ‘70s when Senator Mark Hatfield got up in front of Nixon and Kissinger to denounce the war in Vietnam as a “national sin.” As might be expected, Dick and Henry looked less than pleased with Senator Hatfield’s remarks, which fact drove the Left into paroxysms of glee. Observers of the phenomenon of “speaking truth to power” will have noticed that this stylish rhetorical technique is practiced solely by Liberals who denounce sitting-duck media targets thus winning plaudits for their moral courage. With the most leftwing Liberal politician in Congress now firmly ensconced in the White House, there was certainly no reason to expect fireworks—in fact the Press Corpse assigned only one pool reporter to the affair. Why should everyone suffer through such theocratic bilge with no discernible payoff in the way of a scoop?
Obama, who intensely dislikes early mornings, appeared intensely fatigued, and sources tell WOOF that he was popping Nicorette gum serially, fighting to remain conscious during a breakfast that began at the unconscionably early hour of 7:55. Even with Nicorette wedged tightly in cheek, the President was clearly fighting the impulsion to nod off during the predictably lackluster warmup speakers, and most notably while opera singer Andrea Bocelli, –who popped up in a charcoal grey suit out of the rows of breakfasters– rendered a threnodial version of “Ombra mai fu” which is an aria from an unpopular opera (“Serse”) by Handel, and which is, perhaps not unfittingly, an impassioned ode to a plant.
And then came Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, famed neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Hospital, who must have looked good to the White House on paper, he having been the subject of a Hollywood film in which he was portrayed by no less a liberal than Cuba Gooding Jr. And didn’t Mr. Gooding high-five the Dear Leader only last year at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s Annual Phoenix Awards? And the movie “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” was ballyhooed by the elites as a gritty portrayal of a black man’s rise to fame and high position despite, you know, racism and stuff, and Dr. Carson seemed like a good bet to drone away about the “struggle” and all that remained wrong and unfinished with the American dream. But the problem with successful Black Americans who make it to the top on the basis of their own merits, talents, and education is that while most of the time you get a good solid clone of say, Octavia Spencer, or Don Cheadle, sometimes things go a bit haywire and out pops some aberration like Herman Caine or Nicki Manaj, obliging the African American “community” (once cued by the White Liberal Elites) to collectively scratch its head and give full-throated voice to its displeasure lest more souls be lost.
But the problem with Dr. Benjamin Carson was not so much that he came at Obama from out of the sun, or that he seemed to be some Tomming ingrate Oreo (you know, like that Michael Steele guy—or even that terrible Condoleezza Rice woman), no, the real problem with Carson was that he didn’t have anything political to say at all during his key note speech. Not in any strict sense, anyhow. He didn’t discuss the recent election, or make negative comments about this or that political figure—he didn’t need to. He had more macrocosmic things on his mind. In broad terms he wished to discuss freedom, God, America, and common sense. Can you think of a better way to wreck breakfast for the President and his crew?
Dr. Carson limited himself to 25 minutes of speaking time, during which he addressed issues of faith (mentioning Jesus Christ by name, which is a bold move inside the beltway, even at a prayer breakfast), and then moved on to the topic of healthcare. Dr. Carson might be presumed to know a thing or two about health care, because he lives it on a daily basis—so seeing him turn his attention thence was not in itself disconcerting. One might easily anticipate that he would voice positive sentiments about the impending “Affordable Healthcare Act” –but what he had to say was, reasonably summarized, damnatory. At the outset of his remarks, Dr. Carson expressed a thoroughgoing contempt for political correctness, which he described as “a horrible thing” the effect of which is to stultify free speech and inhibit creative thought and expression. He called on all Americans to shed their fears—to speak out as they saw fit, insisting that, “We’ve reached a point where people are actually afraid to talk about what they want to say, because somebody might be offended. We’ve got to get over this sensitivity…it keeps people from saying what they really believe.”
Having thus positioned himself, Carson dug into the concept of excessive taxation. “What we need to do,” he said, “ is come up with something simple. And 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 a tithe.” A tithe? Well, yes—a flat tax is the secular version of the idea, but the Bible calls it tithing. Of course a tithe goes to the Church whereas a flat rate goes to the government, but think of the welcome simplification such a system would immediately engender. Think of the bureaucracies of accountants, inquisitors, lawyers and IRS agents who would have to seek honest employment. Dr. Carson continued, “We don’t necessarily have to do 10% but it’s the principle. He didn’t say if your crops fail, don’t give me any tithe or if you have a bumper crop, give me triple tithe. So there must be something inherently fair about proportionality. You make $10 billion, you put in a billion. You make $10 you put in one. Of course you’ve got to get rid of the loopholes. Some people say, ‘Well that’s not fair because it doesn’t hurt the guy who made $10 billion as much as the guy who made 10.’ Where does it say you’ve got to hurt the guy? He just put a billion dollars in the pot. We don’t need to hurt him. It’s that kind of thinking that has resulted in 602 banks in the Cayman Islands. That money needs to be back here building our infrastructure and creating jobs.”
Obama at this juncture appeared taught-jawed and tense, no longer somnolent. John Kerry began yawning histrionically as if to say “nothing to see here, folks!” to the media’s pool reporter who might need a reminder that this was fast becoming a non-event, which reminder he took to heart by the way– while Joe Biden sat staring into the crowd with that expression of contented detachment that only the truly uncomprehending can achieve. “…Here’s my solution,” Said Carson, “When a person is born, give him a birth certificate, [say, there’s an idea!] an electronic medical record, and a health savings account (HSA) to which money can be contributed — pretax — from the time you’re born ’til the time you die.
When you die, you can pass it on to your family members, so that when you’re 85 years old and you got six diseases, you’re not trying to spend up everything. You’re happy to pass it on and there’s nobody talking about death panels.” (An odd assertion in a week when the President’s pet economist Paul Krugman was joining former administration honcho Steve Rattner in broaching the topic by name). But what about the poor and the destitute, Dr. Carson? The hapless mendicants who rely on socialism to yank their aching molars and patch their hernias? Are they now forsaken? Shouldn’t they have the opportunity to stand in lines similar to the MVA while low-level government functionaries with rotten attitudes shuffle them around like haunches of beef while denying this and denying that? Carson actually has them covered too.
Turning his thoughts to, “the people who were indigent who don’t have any money,” he explained that “we can make contributions to their HSA each month because we already have this huge pot of money. Instead of sending it to some bureaucracy, let’s put it in their HSAs. Now they have some control over their own health care.” Control over their own health care? Dr. Carson, surely you are not this naive. What good does it do the power drivers of the worldwide totalitarian socialist conspiracy that governs us to give us power? Why, they might as well let us eat what we like, drive whatever cars we prefer, and set our thermostats where we like. No, Dr. Carson knows full well that Barack Obama is vitally interested in health care only because it translates into health control. Control the citizenry’s access to medical care and you control the citizenry—with the added option of being able to slyly neglect the health concerns of those you have difficulty controlling. What a deal!
While Obama stared icily, Carson concluded on an upbeat note, declaring America’s problems dire but solvable if bright and innovative people were allowed to address them. Naturally, that is the last thing that the Obama Administration plans on allowing, and clearly, Carson knows it—his cheerful, sprightly talk was a carefully camouflaged smackdown, and perfectly executed. Whether one concurs in each particular of his briefly described solution to the health care mess, Carson clearly succeeded in demonstrating that a free, creative people, unsaddled by Marxist dogma, can solve such problems handily and without inflicting lethal damages on the national exchequer. It is a telling indictment of the current Administration that a lucid, clarion exhortation to enact financially responsible, free enterprise solutions to the looming Obamacare catastrophe drove the President of the United States to venomous glares, and nearly put our newest Secretary of State to sleep.