Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A Guess About Gupta
While my overall disdain for celebritocracy probably suggests that I should be bummed out about the prospect of CNN personality Sanjay Gupta taking the post of Surgeon General, my first reaction is that it's something of an inspired choice. Even better, it's another indication that the Obama administration might swing for the fences on health care reform. Consider:

The offer followed a two-hour Chicago meeting in November with Obama, who said that Gupta could be the highest-profile surgeon general in history and would have an expanded role in providing health policy advice, the sources said. Gupta later spoke with Tom Daschle, Obama's White House health czar and nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, and other advisers to the president-elect.

The Michigan-born son of parents who were born in India, Gupta has always been drawn to health policy. He was a White House fellow in the late 1990s, writing speeches and crafting policy for Hillary Clinton. His appointment would give the administration a prominent official of South Asian descent and a skilled television spokesman.

Certainly Gupta (about whom I know very little, and of whom I have no strong opinion) would bring the highest profile to the office of anyone who's taken that job. C. Everett Koop, the surgeon general who's probably best known in popular culture to those of us of a certain age, was a pediatrician in Philadelphia before Reagan appointed him; in fact, he performed surgery on me (for a hernia) when I was seven, making him the only public figure of national stature who's ever touched my genitals.

But I digress.

As someone very comfortable in front of the camera, Gupta could be a powerful advocate for whatever reform of health coverage Obama and Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle eventually champion. Further, if the proposed policy shift includes a change in emphasis from responsive to preventive care, as I think it well might, you'd really rather have a charismatic doctor championing that message than, say, Byron Dorgan.

My sense the last couple days has been that we're starting to see the steep side of Obama's learning curve as he prepares to take office. But this move strikes me as pretty clever.


Feral said...

Didn't you also have a connection to Biden, via an uncle or somebody? I remember talk of a lunch meeting.

This is turning out to be the 6 degrees of seperation cabinet for you. You're apparently the Kevin Bacon (or Zelig, depending on one's age and/or propensity for absurdist humor) of the Obama era...

Feral said...

P.S.: the only public figure of national stature, 'yet', who's ever touched your genitals.

David said...

Yes, Biden's dad and my paternal grandfather were very close friends. I got to hang out with him one afternoon about 14 years ago. He's good people.

(Though I don't think my connection, however intimate, to the surgeon general from four administrations ago really gets me many Bacon points in 2009.)

Note also w/r/t genital touching comment that I said "national" stature.

Brian said...

Janet Reno didn't bring a high profile? Whenever I masturbate I think of her.

David said...


Chris said...

When I do it I yell out Jocelyn.

Anyway, have you seen some of the ish fivethirtyeight has been throwing down? He's getting better since he's been freed of the election.