Ben Carson had a nice focused set of goals that he carefully laid out in Vegas. With Sean Hannity on Fox after the debate was all over. As people milled about buzzing and chatting over who won on stage. And with Hannity carefully prompting him.

Carson can work a crowd. His way. He can convince voters one on one in intimate gatherings, as much by his soft-spoken evangelism as by his policy ideas. But on stage in a debate focused on national security, he just doesn’t convince. Perhaps his meditation on tough choices – civilian deaths that would result from bombing ISIS strongholds in this case – will someday be seen as wise. On stage in Vegas it came across as bizarre, whatever the underlying logic.

Where is your surgeon’s decisiveness Dr. Carson? No one else up there has a problem with rhetoric – much as some of the rhetoric may offend or delight or glaze over one’s eyes.

Ben Carson has a problem with rhetoric. It may even be a philosophical problem: as a physician and by extension an applied scientist, he may find the posturing that is part and parcel of rhetoric a frivolous vice that borders on propaganda.

Maybe Congress – as reformed by Dr. Carson – would carefully diagnose a problem and then apply a scalpel where needed, without the enormous bulk of add-ons that every representative and senator so loves. Maybe the House floor would resemble an operating room with dry focused comments and legislative remedies swiftly slapped into the waiting speaker’s outstretched hand.

Maybe debates would be replaced by symposiums – taking it back to really old school style – where evidence-based solutions would be collegially crafted.

And maybe then, and only then, would Ben Carson win the nomination and the presidency of the United States.

Otherwise, he’s going to have to learn how to swing a few punches – he doesn’t even have to raise his voice – if he wants to regain his momentum in the race. No one expects Ben Carson to act like a career politician. That’s exactly why he’s where he is. But to at least some, if not a majority, of voters; he must show he can lead. And that means a little convincing rhetoric.

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