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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The world is abuzz today with rumors that Obama is going to tap CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. Ezra Klein thinks it's a great idea because Gupta's media presence will elevate health issues in the public eye (and Steve Benen agrees)—but I must confess that my gut reaction was much closer to Ana Marie Cox's Twitter:

I know he's the real deal and all but otherwise making Dr. Gupta Surgeon General is sort of like putting Mr. Rogers on Supreme Court.
It's as if he named Dr. Nick Surgeon General. It just feels silly.

PZ Meyers has the same feeling:
He seems a bit of a lightweight, to me — he's mainly known as a congenial talking head on television news. He's also an apologist for US health care, which does not give me any confidence that we can expect the slightest effort towards health care reform. I suspect Obama has just picked a pleasant smiling face to act as a placeholder, and that disappoints me.
Krugman, too:
I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.

What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.
All in all, the worst pick yet, I think.