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October 28, 2014

The Better Surgeon General is the (Acting) One We Have Now


The very political Dr. Vivek Murthy

Ever since the Ebola virus made its way to the United States in the form of the handful of infections among health care professionals serving on that continent and a nurse who cared for a West African man who succumbed to the disease in a Texas hospital, there have been recriminations against Senate Republicans for opposing the nomination of President’s hand-picked designee for the position of U.S. surgeon general.

Like the NRA, the NSSF opposed the confirmation of Dr. Vivek Murthy early this year.  We opposed the nomination, as I wrote at the time, because “…we now see a White House that has chosen to name a relatively inexperienced 36-year-old doctor who has more political than medical credentials for the job. His Doctors for America organization was up to its collective stethoscope draped neck in the anti-gun Docs v. Glocks campaign in Florida. We could say more, but why? Dr. Murthy seems to have President Obama’s political health as his top concern. The past is prologue, as it’s been said, so we oppose Dr. Murthy as our next surgeon general. America deserves better.”

Not only does America deserves better, it currently has better in the form of the acting surgeon general, Dr. Boris D. Lushniak, who has outstanding credentials to help manage America’s response to this or any other potential epidemiologic emergency. Dr. Lushniak began his distinguished medical career three decades ago with the Public Health Service and was steadily promoted through the ranks. He has worked with the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the Center for Disease Control, and with the Food and Drug Administration, as chief medical officer of the Office of Counterterrorism.

So, we should not again be paging Dr. Murthy when a talented and skilled medical professional is in charge of America’s Public Health Service.  And isn’t that how it always should be? If President Obama wants to nominate another physician for the post of surgeon general that would be fine, but no one who opposed Dr. Murthy for the post is going to be changing their tune.  In the meantime, the Public Health Service is in excellent hands.

All politics, including the President’s brand of gun politics, should end at the surgeon general’s door.