Profile: Defense Secretary Nominee Ashton Carter

Posted February 4, 2015 at 5:00am

The Boston Globe profiles Ashton Carter as he begins confirmation hearing today before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services: “On a brisk winter morning four decades ago, Ashton B. Carter stood in a Yale University classroom before a somber committee considering him for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. A couple of the members sniffed at his application in disbelief. Under the category ‘hobbies,’ the 21-year-old history major had written that he had a collection of electrocardiograms, heart readings that he liked to examine. Just for fun.”  

“One member of the committee was so sure that Carter had conjured up such a brainy hobby to impress the committee, that he ordered up an EKG and had Carter read it on the spot, Carter later told a couple of close acquaintances. His appearance that day left them speechless.”  

“’He was dazzling,’ Oakes Ames, a member of the committee and the former president of Connecticut College, said of his overall performance. ‘I’ve heard many candidates over the years, and I don’t remember much about them. But I do remember Carter.’”  

“For Carter, President Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense whose confirmation hearing begins Wednesday before the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, the bravura performance was standard fare. The truism about Carter is that he’s the smartest person in the room; the truth is he’s probably the smartest one in the building. This is a man who did calculus problems to relax as a youth, who snuck away from his fellow lacrosse players in high school to read medieval history, who wrote one of his two senior theses on the use of Latin by monastic writers in 12th-century Flanders. And that EKG collection? He still has it.”