Carter actions speak louder than other’s (many) words

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 6, 2015

For at least four of nine hours in my car yesterday, I was listening to the national news, and it was all about presidential candidates.

In case you weren’t tuned in, CNN attempted to vet parts of GOP front-runner Ben Carson’s autobiography, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,” in which the neurosurgeon sets out the story of his spiritual redemption, recounting acts of violence in which he almost killed an acquaintance to a religious experience that left him the calm, mild-tempered man he his today.

Carson first said the would-be victim was a friend; later that he was a relative. Carson describes his angry actions of stabbing, rock throwing, brick hurling and baseball bat beating.

Reporters talked to nine friends, classmates and neighbors who grew up with the Carson. None of them had any recollection of the incident. Reporters repeatedly approached the campaign for comments or for assistance in their investigation. The campaign declined.

Carson has since said the names of some of his victims were fictitious for their own privacy. Reporters argued that the tactic is often used, but that people generally explain that’s what they are doing.

Friday morning, he angrily lashed out at Alisyn Camerota, saying the media was reporting “a bunch of lies,” in an effort to discredit him. Still, he offered no help connecting them with the people he claims to have fought with and hurt in the past.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is preparing to host Saturday Night Live tonight, and former President George H.W. Bush is said to have been harshly critical of some of the top officials in his son’s presidency in a new biography penned by Jon Meacham.

Of former Vice President Dick Cheney, Bush is said to have told Meacham, “He had his own empire there and marched to his own drummer,” Meacham quotes Bush. “It just showed me that you cannot do it that way. The president should not have that worry.”

As I listened to all of this nonsense, I couldn’t help be reminded of something I’d read earlier in the week – an Associated Press interview of former president Jimmy Carter.

In August, Carter, who is 91, revealed that he has melanoma, the most dangerous type of skin cancer. His has spread to his liver and his brain. A portion of his liver has been removed; he is doing radiation for the brain tumors, and is using a medication designed to stimulate the immune system.

Carter was interviewed not from an easy chair in Plains, nor from a comfortable office at the Carter Center in Atlanta. Instead, the former president was at a Habitat for Humanity homebuilding site in Memphis.

“I haven’t stepped back yet,” he said. “I still work at the Carter Center. I still work with Habitat. We still take care of our farm. So we still have just as full a schedule. We haven’t cut back on my schedule yet.”

Perhaps the world’s most famous Sunday School teacher is giving us the best object lesson of the week: Show us; don’t tell us. We need less talk and more action.