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morning opinion digest

Ben Carson’s long shot, the Clintons and Haiti, and more

Dr. Ben Carson, a retired pediatric neurosurgeon, formally announced his candidacy for president in Detroit on Monday.Getty Images

Check out five opinions trending online, from the pope’s environmental teachings to Atul Gawande on medical overkill.

Ben Carson’s selfie: GOP candidate Ben Carson jumped into the race with a video that compares Carson, variously, to Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln, writes Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank. Over the top? Of course.

“This is why Carson’s long-shot candidacy should be such an exciting addition to the presidential race. His positions, his provocations, and his showmanship are all delightfully over the top.” Read more.

David Brooks on meaning. New York Times columnist David Brooks, who is traveling on a book tour, wonders why there is so little discussion of the big questions in life: morality, philosophy, and purpose.


“Intellectual prestige has drifted away from theologians, poets, and philosophers and toward neuroscientists, economists, evolutionary biologists, and big data analysts. These scholars have a lot of knowledge to bring, but they’re not in the business of offering wisdom on the ultimate questions.” Read more.

Hillary, Bill, and Haiti: Bill and Hillary Clinton have brought private aid, investment, and their network of global connections to Haiti. Writing for Politico Magazine, Jonathan Katz unravels the complex relationship.

“The island nation, in many ways, represents ground zero for the confusing and often conflict-ridden intersection of her State Department, the Clinton family’s foundation and both of their foreign policies.” Read more.

The pope, the environment, and population control: The pope’s upcoming encyclical on the environment is expected to be released in June, but John Allen writes in Crux that opponents in the church are already worried that it will lead to calls for population control and contraception.

“The aftermath of the pope’s forthcoming encyclical won’t play out only in forums where environmental matters are explicitly on the agenda. It will be felt in plenty of other arenas too, perhaps including the pontiff’s trip to the United States in September and the Synod of Bishops on the family in October.” Read more.


Medical overkill: Boston surgeon Atul Gawande tackles the epidemic of unnecessary testing and treatment in the New Yorker.

“Virtually every family in the country, the research indicates, has been subject to overtesting and overtreatment in one form or another. The costs appear to take thousands of dollars out of the paychecks of every household each year.” Read more.

Ellen Clegg is a member of the Globe staff. She tweets @ellenclegg.