Every so often, I use this space to share the perspectives of my cousin, a scientist and cardiologist.
Like so many medical professionals, he used to be a reliable Republican; he’s now appalled by the way in which the Grand Old Party has deserted science and especially by its total capitulation to politics over sound medicine. In a recent post to his own blog, he addressed the GOP’s refusal to confirm a stellar candidate to the post of Surgeon General.
In March of this year, President Obama nominated a highly qualified candidate, Vivek Murthy, to be the nation’s next Surgeon General, but the nomination was not advanced to a confirmation vote in the Senate because conservative lawmakers and the National Rifle Association found his reasonable views on firearm regulation unacceptable. Thus a highly respected physician with impressive credentials who would have been an outstanding Surgeon General was rejected solely for political reasons. Although I, for one, believe that the regulation of firearms does indeed qualify as being a health/medical issue (see my post of May 30, 2013), it certainly should not constitute a “litmus test” for qualification for such a position.
Bottom line: The office of Surgeon General is vacant because a highly qualified doctor has pissed off the NRA by saying something that every sentient being understands to be true: gun violence is a public health issue.
No one in the GOP–and damn few Democrats–are willing to stand up to an organization so far out of the mainstream of public opinion that its own members think it is too extreme.
Our political system is so broken, it may be beyond repair.