Saturday, July 21, 2007

Why have a Surgeon General?

A couple of weeks ago Richard Carmona, former Surgeon General under Bush (2002-2006) told the House Oversight Committee (that would be Henry Waxman making trouble for the Bushies again) that the Bushies "muzzled him on sensitive public health issues" and "blocked him from speaking out on public health matters such as stem cell research, abstinence-only sex education and emergency contraceptive Plan B," as the WaPo put it. C. Everett Kook, SG under Reagan, and David Satcher, SG under Clinton, also complained of politicization of the Surgeon General's office.

Grow up, folks! it's a politically appointed position and will always be inherently political.

Meanwhile, Bush's current appointee, James Holsinger, has come under fire for having written an article back in 1991that came pretty close to saying being gay is an affliction and that it leads to certain kinds of debilities and susceptibilities to medical problems. He says he's "grown" since then.

The best solution to all this is to abolish the office of Surgeon General. The office grew out of the Civil War, but there's no real need for it. In modern times the SG serves as sort of a national scold on health issues, but we have plenty of those in the private and independent sectors. And because everyone knows the SG is a politically-determined position, instead of having more credibility because he's the gummint's chief medical officer, he has less than the most interest-driven private-sector health scold.

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