Admit it: when George W. Bush is gone, you're going to miss him. Who else would politicize the surgeon general's
office? Who else would embed junk science into a mostly ceremonial post? And who else could turn a congressional hearing into strengthening that sinecure into an exploration of political corruption?
Yesterday, Richard H. Carmona, U.S. surgeon general from 2002 to 2006, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the Bush-inflicted horrors he experienced during his tenure. Some of Carmona's experience will be familiar to administration-watchers, like a dismissal of global warming as "a liberal cause" by senior officials. Health and Human Services cronies struck references to stem-cell research from his speeches while instructing him to mention President Bush three times on every page. Come election time, the nation's doctor was to prescribe voting for the GOP ticket.
Other aspects are more inventive, even for President Bush. Consider the case of the Special Olympics
And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organizationâs longtime ties to a âprominent familyâ that he refused to name.
âI was specifically told by a senior person, âWhy would you want to help those people?â â Dr. Carmona said.
The Special Olympics is one of the nationâs premier charitable organizations to benefit disabled people, and the Kennedys have long been deeply involved in it.
When asked after the hearing if that âprominent familyâ was the Kennedys, Dr. Carmona responded, âYou said it. I didnât.â
What's the White House response? It's Carmona's fault:
âItâs disappointing to us,â (White House spokeswoman Emily) Lawrimore said, âif he failed to use this position to the fullest extent in advocating for policies he thought were in the best interests of the nation.â
Carmona is hardly the first, or even the fifteenth example of the administration's politically motivated suppression of science. For instance, James Hansen, muzzled from speaking about climate change. Susan Wood, restricted from approving an over-the-counter contraceptive. Just consult the list.
And, of course, it may not stop when Bush is out of office. In 2004, Frank Foer wrote the definitive exploration of the clash between empiricism and modern conservatism. We've all got our dogmas, but Foer's piece shows this to be something of a mania on the right. Call the doctor.
Note: You can see video from the hearing here.