So says Tom McClusky of the Family Research Council in that voice of neoconservatism, National Review Online. Heâ€™s annoyed that former Surgeon Generals say the office is too politicized. You think? In the past few months weâ€™ve heard more about â€˜serving at the pleasure of the Presidentâ€™ than in the whole Clinton/Lewinsky mess. Mr. McClusky is right in step with the Bush administration. In his words, the role of the Surgeon General is â€œto follow the orders of the guy who gave me my job.â€?
If that was all the S.G. was good for, Iâ€™d be okay with leaving the office vacant indefinitely, but I havenâ€™t given up. I have a dream of a reality-based Surgeon General who serves the people by giving reliable information and sound policy advice.
We havenâ€™t had that since Dr. David Satcher was let go to make room for Dr. Richard Carmona. As I noted in a previous post, Dr. Carmona was a macho, Bernard Kerik type guy who turned meek as a lamb once in office. Itâ€™s easier to yell at nurses than to stand up to all the Presidentâ€™s men. Recently, Dr. Carmona got his voice back. Better late than never, because the Pres has a candidate whoâ€™s sure to do a heckuva job.
Dr. James Holsinger is already raising controversy because of an inflammatory 1991 paper he wrote on the dangers of homosexuality. We all know that back then doctors had to write their papers with quill pens, so nothing he wrote really applies now. He declines to say what he believes now. That makes him well-qualified to work for President Bush, but I donâ€™t want him working for me.
Congress will be representing we the people when they convene this fall to confirm or reject Dr. Holsingerâ€™s nomination. I want them to keep looking, because thereâ€™s a lot a Surgeon General could do. Just to start:
—Healthy People 2010 is still in progress but needs a voice. Itâ€™s a set of goals that give us a sense of direction, even hope.
–Chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes cause suffering and burden our health care system. We need a commitment to prevention.
–Repairing public confidence in vaccines will take more than P.R. because the issues are real. This administration screwed up the flu vaccine in 2004 by buying all its stock from a plant that had to be closed down for contamination. In 2005 there were distribution problems.
–Bird flu is still out there, killing millions of birds and scores of people. If it mutates to a more transmissible, virulent form then we are toast, because we donâ€™t have a strong public health system in place.
–Dr. Satcher was a strong advocate for mental health services. Signature injuries of the Iraq war are brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder. We need support for veterans and others who suffer mental illness.
–We have over forty million Americans uninsured. President Bush has promised to veto the extension of the State Childrenâ€™s Health Insurance Program. Heâ€™s out of his mind.
Well, I could go on. Itâ€™s a big job. We need a serious, honest, fearless advocate for health in our nation. We canâ€™t afford to let the office of the Surgeon General fall to cronyism as usual.