Vivek Murthy: From Political Operative to Nation's Top Doc?


President Obama has named his nominee for the post of Surgeon General. And already it is apparent that the jokes about Vivek Murthy are just too easy to make. Not that this will stop me from making them, mind you, but it feels cheap somehow.

Politico reports:

President Barack Obama’s selection of a 36-year-old founder of an Obamacare advocacy group to serve as the nation’s top doctor has brought accusations that he’s too young and too political to be surgeon general.

He’s been out of school for all of eight years and his claim to fame is having organized a group of doctors into an advocate/activist base for the passage of Obamacare. One congressman has already gone the cheap-humor route by pointing out that Obama’s qualification for President was his work as a “community organizer” and now he’s nominated a “doctor organizer” for the top doc spot. I refuse to go that route. I would rather point out that Murthy’s ethnicity is a clear attempt by the Administration to prove they are not racially motivated in their indictment of Dinesh D’Souza. (Which will not fool us, by the way.)

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Murthy would replace Regina Benjamin, whose five years in the job have been almost as silent as the administration’s protests against Islamic human rights violations.  She made the rather self-defeating choice early on to advocate against obesity as her number one cause.  Which is a bit like Miley Cyrus advocating against twerking.

So, no doubt, we’ll be treated to some confirmation hearings.  Murthy’s dearth of achievement or qualification will maybe make for some rhetorical jousting.

But what I’m hoping it does is make people wonder why we need a Surgeon General in the first place. The spot is not a Constitutionally authorized position, and Benjamin has proven that the train wreck moves forward just fine without one. Even NPR, who never met a budget item they didn’t love admits:

The surgeon general holds no authority over any serious research funding, lacks a clear legislative role in health policy, has no regulatory powers, and doesn’t even report directly to either the president or the secretary of Health and Human Services.

According to the surgeon general’s Web site, the official’s primary job is to be “a highly recognized symbol” of the nation’s health agencies; essentially, she is the public relations person for other people making the important decisions. Even in that limited role, [the top doc] may be hamstrung since the surgeon general’s entire operations budget, by comparison, is less than one-thousandth of the annual sales budget of Pfizer.

But we pay this person at the level of a three-star admiral, along with all travel expenses. We’re talking about a very highly paid (via tax dollars) government spokesperson on health issues. I thought that was the first lady’s job. Correct me if I’m wrong.

I propose that we think outside the box on this issue and nominate a real doctor with many years of experience in medical research and development, as well as a very public record of medical testing, Dr. Bunsen Honeydoo. The kids would listen, and that seems to be the only goal. That, and the payback for political loyalty.


Gordan Runyan’s newest novel hit the stands today. Check out the fantasy-action-adventure, The Groaning Man.

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