NBC's Gregory to Ben Carson: 'Very Highly Charged' to Demand Gov't Follow Constitution

In an interview with Dr. Ben Carson for Meet the Press's web-based feature Press Pass, NBC host David Gregory dismissed Carson's call for "a government that placed the Constitution of the United States at the highest level": "There are some people who say that. That's a very highly charged thing to say. Where is the Constitution not placed in the right level today?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]

Carson gave Gregory a dose of reality: "Because it helps to define what the role of the government is. It doesn't include being in every aspect of our lives....when you take people who are perfectly capable of doing things and you pat them on the head and then you say, 'There, there, you poor little thing, we're going to take care of this and this, you won't have anything to worry about.'"

Earlier in the exchange, Gregory actually lectured Carson on the importance of big government for African-Americans: "Government intervention certainly mattered for African-Americans legislatively, through the judiciary. And certainly beyond just African-Americans, the idea of government stepping in to help people who are being left behind certainly shows evidence of working. Do you agree with that? Is that a fundamental role for government?"


Here is a transcript of the exchange aired on the local NBC Washington D.C. affiliate WRC-4 on  June 1:

11:38 AM ET

(...)

DAVID GREGORY: We're back with Dr. Ben Carson, author of One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future. What's it like to become – particularly as an African-American who eschews any party label – nevertheless, you're on Fox News all the time, you're courted by a lot of conservatives, there's thoughts about you running for president. Certainly the Republican Party would like to have more African-Americans in leadership to be a better face for the party as it courts more minority voters, women, et cetera. What's that like for you to be in the middle of that – that maelstrom?

BEN CARSON: Well, I never intended to be in the middle of it, but it did seem to work out that way. And, you know, whether I'm African-American or not is irrelevant to me. What is relevant is we have to start looking at evidence. We have to start looking at history. And we have to look at what works in the past and what doesn't work. And what's good for all Americans, African-Americans and every other American group.

GREGORY: Government intervention certainly mattered for African-Americans legislatively, through the judiciary. And certainly beyond just African-Americans, the idea of government stepping in to help people who are being left behind certainly shows evidence of working. Do you agree with that? Is that a fundamental role for government?

CARSON: I think government in the right way when it understands what it's supposed to do is excellent. I would love to have a government that placed the Constitution of the United States at the highest level. And-

GREGORY: But how does it – there are some people who say that. That's a very highly charged thing to say. Where is the Constitution not placed in the right level today?

CARSON: Because it helps to define what the role of the government is. It doesn't include being in every aspect of our lives. And has the government been helpful? No question. During Jim Crow and things like that, stepping in, in those situations, was a very helpful and needful thing to do. The problem is when you keep extending that, when you take people who are perfectly capable of doing things and you pat them on the head and then you say, "There, there, you poor little thing, we're going to take care of this and this, you won't have anything to worry about."

GREGORY: Who and what are you talking about now? Are you talking about like-

CARSON: I'm talking about you take somebody who's perfectly capable, you want to give them food stamps, housing subsidy, free health care, et cetera, that is not empowering people. What that is doing is keeping people in a dependent situation. And I would like for a lot of the people who advocate those things to really stop and utilize some of that energy and some of those resources to create an environment that allows people to move out. Look at some of the things that have been advocated by Muhammad Yunus with microeconomics. And we can do that same kind of thing here in this country, it would have to take a larger amount of money, but I think a lot of people would be very happy to invest in other people's economic welfare as long as they saw them moving up and not staying static.

(...)

Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen
Kyle Drennen is a News Analyst for MRC