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Ben Carson throws down the gauntlet to Al Sharpton

 Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference
Dr. Ben Carson speaks during the 41st annual Conservative Political Action Conference
Photo by T.J. Kirkpatrick/Getty Images

A Monday story in the Washington Times reports that Dr. Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who has written a number of books on public policy has offered to debate Al Sharpton on various issues of concern to African Americans. Hot Air suggests that while this would be as catnip to the fans of each leader, it may be easier said than done. Each man works for rival cable news networks, Carson for Fox News and Sharpton for MSNBC. But the contrast between each man’s style and substance could not be greater.

Carson, who first won national fame when he directly challenged President Obama on health care reform, is a soft spoken man who won his way up through education and hard work from poverty. His approach is definitely on the conservative side of the electoral divide, emphasizing individual responsibility and small government as a means to solving social problems. He is a tea party favorite and has been mentioned, despite never holding a political office, as a potential president of the United States.

Sharpton’s stock in trade has been fanning the flames of racial animosity for personal and political profit. From the Tawana Brawley affair to the current unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Sharpton seems to be attracted to racially charged situations, which he has been accused of exacerbating. He has also made bigoted remarks against Jews, whites, gays, and Mormons. He has run for a number of political offices, including that of president of the United States in 2004

Such a debate between Carson and Sharpton, if nothing else, would be both illuminating and entertaining. The trick would be to find some high profile neutral ground and a good format that would bring out the two men’s differing views and approaches. A Lincoln/Douglas style debate, perhaps on CSPAN, might prove suitable, with both men able to speak at length on how they would address social issues.