Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General

As you know, Senator Elect Barack Obama appears to have chosen neurosurgeon, former policy wonk, and CNN medical/health correspondent Sanjay Gupta to be surgeon general. There is an overwhelming display, on the science blogosphere, of diversity in opinion about this choice. My opinion: WTFC? He is not clearly unqualified, and the exact nature of the surgeon general position is poorly defined and ever changing. He is a communications guy, so maybe his thing will be about science communication. That would be interesting. The point is that every surgeon general has either picked up on a cause or two and run with it, or simply hid out (as the current SG has done), hobbled by an administration that does not want to hear anything from the SG.

Also, have you noticed that Surgeon General and Sanjy Gupta are both “SG.” That’s gotta mean something!

Anyway, here is a list of some of the current posts discussing this appointment. Dont’ listen to what I say, read this stuff:

Pharyngula:
I’m not so sure about this pick
Moore v. Gupta: Truth v. False Doubt
The Intersection: Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General? Here’s My Gripe
Jake Young at Pure Pedantry: Sanjay Gupta is a possible Surgeon General
Orac: Dr. Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General? Yawn.
Some guy who really does not like him: Sanjay Gupta As Surgeon General? Not So Fast
PalMD, who really does like him: Gupta for Surgeon General? Cool.
Abel Pharmboy: Why I think Sanjay Gupta is a good pick for Surgeon General
An old post by revere: Michael Moore puts Sanjay Gupta into intensive care

Comments

  1. #1 Stephanie Z
    January 7, 2009

    As a relatively young, brilliant and unconventional person, may I just take this opportunity to mention that the “gravitas” arguments are making me grind my teeth.

  2. #2 uncle noel
    January 7, 2009

    What showed up in Gupta’s response to Moore was his lack of concern for the millions of Americans who are poorly insured or uninsured. I was surprised to find him so callous and clueless on this issue – he seemed to be purposefully missing Moore’s more important points to quibble over details. I was appalled and no longer respect him.

  3. #3 Monica
    January 7, 2009
  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    January 7, 2009

    Monica, I’m not keen on a lot of stuff he’s said, but what had me grinding my teeth is the talk that he doesn’t have the age or demeanor for the position. True, “elder statesman” he ain’t, but that has nothing to do with the qualifications for the job. He needs people to listen to him. They do that.

    Calls for gravitas are calls to fit someone’s mental image of the job. That’s something I don’t do, but it’s never stopped people from coming to me as the expert on all sorts of things (more than I am expert in) once they see what I can do.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    January 7, 2009

    He can just grow a big funny looking beard and he’ll get the gravitas.

  6. #6 Stephanie Z
    January 7, 2009

    Same thought occurred to me, Greg.

  7. #7 Monica
    January 7, 2009

    Stephanie, I was being flip in saying gravitas=bad for us wimin… kind of. I agree with you completely, I don’t like the idea it represents either. I was particularly irked by that very critique of Obama during the primaries. I actually don’t have a beef with Gupta’s gravitas (that was very fun to type) and/or qualifications, but with what I have read and heard him say sometimes.

    And, you’re right, A LOT of people already listen to him. But, that might not be enough, because what is his message going to be?

    Don’t grind your teeth too hard! :)

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    January 7, 2009

    Monica, ‘s all good. I realized there were plenty of people who probably had no idea what I meant.