Earlier this month, former Bush Surgeon General Richard Carmona testified about political interference with his performance as Surgeon General. Carmona sought to portray himself as a medical professional interested in scientific fact who was pressured and obstructed by ideologically motivated political appointees. Yet as Radley Balko reports, Carmona has a political science problem of his own.
It may, indeed, be a fair point to accuse the Bush administration of politicizing science. But Richard Carmona isn't the person to make it. Carmona's entire term as surgeon general has been marked by embracing every last hobgoblin promoted by the public health movement, generally above and beyond what the science says. Sometimes in spite of it.
Balko was unmoved by Carmona's testimony, and thinks the Surgeon General's office today is an inherently politicized post.
The Office of Surgeon General always has been overtly political, a captive of the most hysterical public health activists. Its only real powers are tongue-clucking and finger-wagging, usually about the latest moral panic, lecturing the American public to knock off its bad habits, lest somebody get hurt. Richard Carmona's tenure was no different, which is why it's laughable to hear him lecture someone else about science.