Bush's former surgeon general says he was muzzled

Story here.

(Pit thead on Holsinger.)

Do we really have to put up with this shit until January '09?!

Well, until C. Everett Koop became a big media celebrity, surgeons general could toil in relative obscurity. Now they are a prominent public face of any administration - and those administrations tend to want to control the messages that are put out.

If that wasn’t so, President Clinton probably wouldn’t have had to ask for the resignation of Dr. Joycelyn Elders.

The specific criticisms of Dr. Carmona should be given great weight - all except those that take the Administration to task for controlling his public utterances. That is what is to be expected, at least to some degree, and if he can’t deal with that then he cannot work in government.

It’s an interesting question. I’d think that anyone appointed by the President would more or less have to toe the party line (which strikes me as a lousy way to look after the health of the country, and bad science besides). But how long was Koop around? And did he ever kowtow to anyone?

So you shouldn’t work in Government unless you agree to agree with everything the President says and does? Check your professional credentials at the door? Why even bother having a MD as Surgeon General or even having one at all? Just get the political lapdogs to make the pronuciations.

Jocelyn Elders was an idiot for making herself a political millstone, but she wasn’t censored.

Seriously, if there is one overriding lesson to be learned from this administration, it is to not surround yourself with toadies and lickspittles. The greatest failure of the Bush presidency was the lack of a single voice commenting on the Emperors choice of wardrobe.

Whether appointed or career, you still have to do what is good for the country. All appointees swear to protect the Constitution, not the party. The politicalization of government work is why we have such a mess in the Justice Department, the GSA and FEMA, just to name a few.

And the only ones fighting back have been the often-maligned career bureaucrats.

I saw an interview with him. He said he was in contact with many previous S.Gens. They said they felt sorry for him because he has it so much worse than they did. No surprise there.

The restrictions were so minor as to be trivial. After all, he was entirely at liberty in terms of the extent of his support for Administration policy. If he wanted to murmur quiet approval, he is free to do so, if he wanted to express fulsome and wildly enthusiastic support, he is free to do that as well! Its only when he fosters some dissent on issues still subject to scientific debate, as if these things were settled, that he strays.

He is entirely free to make his own choices, of course! If he wants to place blind faith in the Copernican system, he is free to do so, but shouldn’t flaunt those opinions that are at variance with The Leader, whose grasp of these subjects is the stuff of legend.

He is also obliged to be more supportive when the views of The Leader are so clearly and demonstrably correct. When has he ever expressed his support of GW’s bold, firm stand against human-animal hybrid research? To my knowledge, never.

Joycelyn. How was she an idiot? She offered common-sense, medically-based opinions. Was she an idiot because she didn’t give cautious, politically safe non-answers? Clinton should have backed her up.

None of this stuff is surprising anymore. We’re living through the third really bad, scandal-ridden administration of my lifetime (I mean real scandals, not crap like Whitewater). They’ve gotten successively worse.

(Edited to correct coding.)

I heard this on NPR.
The best part of the story was the Surgeon General complaining that he was taken to task by the administration handlers because he was advocating for disabled kids.

According to NPR he was told that Ted Kennedy was an advocate for these children, thus it was a bad thing to support.

“I put in my paperwork to go to this meeting where I was going to give the keynote addresses … and I was admonished for doing that,” Carmona said. "And the reason I was admonished for doing this is, unfortunately, I was told I would be helping a politically prominent family…. I said, 'This is about sick kids.

Presumably, Carmona faced punishment if he mentioned Our Leader four times per page.

Just once, I would like one of these people to stage a press conference and scream to the entire world what the Bush administration is doing AT THE TIME THEY ARE DOING IT. Instead, they wait several years after leaving to finally speak out. (I’m looking at you, Colin Powell and John Ashcroft.)

It’s not called ‘Team Bush’ for the personal courage of any of its members. These guys are all just trying to save themselves from the wreckage.

Koop was around for most of Reagan’s term, IIRC. Koop also was a good scientist. I saw an interview with him in which he talked about doing a study to see if women who had abortions had more psychological problems than women who didn’t and when that study found no difference, he stood behind the study! He also admonished both sides in the abortion debate, because he felt their use of loaded terms was hindering efforts to reduce the number of abortions, which is something that both sides should support. Koop, it should be noted, is pro-life, but he took a very rational position on the matter: If abortions are legal, then they should be safe, and the woman should know what the alternatives are, but he didn’t think that they should be harassed if they chose to have one. Would that more people were like him.

The position of Surgeon General (or whatever we’d call it) should be filled via a vote among doctors and other medical professionals; not a president (and certainly not a stupid president). It should be completely independent of government and our leaders should take cues from that guy; not the other way around.

Amen! Perhaps the testimony of former officials will encourage current officials to come forward. It sure would be nice if the order to mention Bush three times per page in each speech was in writng and made available. It’s clear that this administration cared about nothing but politics and remaining in power.

What? It’s a government office, not a position of seniority or leadership within the medical profession.

Bullshit, nobody prevented him from talking. If he thought it was important to speak out, he could have done so. They weren’t holding a gun to his head, they were holding a job opportunity to his head. The guy had a successful career going before being appointed SG. He’s not some register jockey who needs to take his boss’ shit to keep food on his table, he could have told the administration to fuck themselves and go right back to his old career.

Instead, he kept the job for 4 years, toed the party line, cashed his checks, played the good little Surgeon General, doing everything he was told. He rides in now a year after the fact complaining about how terribly awful it was?

Carmona and every other Bush employee who kept their mouths shut during the first term can go jump off a fucking bridge. I don’t want to hear about Bush’s abuses now, I wanted to hear about them when we could have done something about it, like not reelect him. Thanks for nothing.

But what if he got fired for speaking out? It’s not like he had any job skills he could’ve fallen back on.

(someone nudges dropzone, reminding him we’re talking about not just any political toadie but a board-certified physician.)

Never mind.

That’s my point. If it wasn’t a government position, politics wouldn’t influence what’s said. They should do away with the position altogether and if people feel they need a single voice to guide Americans in good health ideas and discoveries, let the experts appoint someone who won’t be in anyone’s pocket. I think politics and medicine shouldn’t overlap. Not in this country, anyway.