Wednesday, July 11, 2007


The tubes are buzzing with this story about Dr. Richard Carmona, the U.S. Surgeon General from 2002-2006 who testified yesterday that the Bush Administration silenced him on issues like stem cell research and abstinence-only sex education.

Here’s a video of Carmona’s testimony, I urge you to watch it.

Carmona said when scientific facts were at odds with Bush Administration ideology, ideology won:
"Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as the nation's top doctor from 2002 until 2006, told a House of Representatives committee.

"The problem with this approach is that in public health, as in a democracy, there is nothing worse than ignoring science, or marginalizing the voice of science for reasons driven by changing political winds. The job of surgeon general is to be the doctor of the nation, not the doctor of a political party," Carmona added.

Carmona said Bush administration political appointees censored his speeches and kept him from talking out publicly about certain issues, including the science on embryonic stem cell research, contraceptives and his misgivings about the administration's embrace of "abstinence-only" sex education.

This of course is nothing new. We’ve heard of Bush ideology trumping fact on the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, Scooter Libby and global climate change. This is just another instance of BushCo at work, going about its business the way it always does.

Republicans in Congress like to fein surprise when they hear these stories; I can see Arlen Specter now, in his firm, stentorian way, demanding answers and vowing to get to the bottom of this. In three days he’ll cave, just like he always does.

In truth, Republicans always defend this tactic, I guess because they think ideology is more important than facts, too.

The real proof on where they stand will come this week when the Senate begins confirmation hearings for Bush’s new Surgeon General pick, an ideologue named Dr. Richard James Holsinger. Dr. Holsinger is not going to get muzzled because he’s on board with the Bush ideology about gays and abstinence-only education. Republican Senators who decry Bush’s “ideology over fact” treatment of Dr. Carmona will, I’m sure, pretend that Dr. Holsinger is not the crazy homophobe that he clearly is. Why, lookie here, if it isn’t Sen. Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Kentucky GOP delegation coming to his defense. Told ya so.

I’m sure I could exhort everyone to call Sen. Lamar Alexander and Sen. Bob Corker about Holsinger, but what good will that do? They’ll just stick together like they always do, rubber stamb Bush’s ideology while thinking they can turn around later and deny they ever followed Bush, lemming-like, over the cliff.

I really don’t get their thinking.