After leaving him in pre-confirmation limbo for over a year, the Senate confirmed thirty-seven year old Dr Vivek Murthy as the new surgeon general. He faced opposition from both sides of the aisle, though for different reasons.
Senator Joe Manchin, (D-WV) suggested that Murthy’s political activism ought to disqualify him from a position that should be about public health rather than politics. Murthy was instrumental in promoting Obamacare and was active in Obama’s reelection campaign.
Senator John Barasso, (R-WY) spoke from the Senate floor earlier this week, saying that although Murthy boasts an impressive academic resume, his practical experience is limited at best. He has no real expertise in research, teaching, or public health.
It seems that the only real life experience Murthy has is in progressive politics, which certainly explains why President Obama nominated him. What it does not explain is how, with several Democrats such as Manchin voting against him, they managed to dig up the fifty-one votes necessary to confirm him.
The other concern is that Murthy has made an enemy of the NRA. In a telling tweet sent in 2012, he stated: “Tired of politicians playing politics w/guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of the NRA. Guns are a healthcare issue.”
And now Murthy is the final word in American public health.
Although Murthy has claimed that he does not intend to “use the position as a bully pulpit to promote gun control,” focusing instead on really important problems such as the obesity epidemic, how many school shootings or gun crimes will it take before guns supersede obesity as the greatest risk to American health in his estimation?