Sanja Gupta For Surgeon General?

“President-elect Barack Obama is reported to have picked CNN’S medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta to be the next surgeon general,” NPR reports.

I was hoping for Dr. Phil.

All snark aside, U.S. News blogger Robert Schlesinger, who initially greeted the choice with “hearty laughter,” thinks it’s not so bad upon reflection.

The job description for surgeon general is “America’s chief health educator.” Say what you want about cable “news” and the irritating trend toward highlighting “personalities” over substance; and say what you want about Gupta specifically; but public education involves some of the same skills one develops working on television news (or “news”).

I’m only vaguely aware of Gupta as a TV personality but he’s qualified.  He’s a former White House fellow, an incredibly prestigious gig, and is currently an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine and associate chief of the neurosurgery service at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

His views on teaching schoolchildren to masturbate are unknown.

FILED UNDER: Contests, Popular Culture, Science & Technology, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Brett says:

    He is (or was) a neurosurgeon, and the associate chief of the Neurosurgery unit at a hospital. I can see some of the reasons why Obama picked him – the Surgeon-General is usually someone who can be a public advocate for some health-related issue (think of Everett Koop and AIDS in the 1980s).

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    I gained new respect for Dr. Gupta when he pitched in while covering Iraq for CNN.

  3. Brett says:

    To add –

    As I mentioned above, the SG is usually an advocate in addition to their other duties, and Sanjay Gupta is already a public personality.

  4. Franklin says:

    FWIW, he remained perfectly calm when he interviewed Michael Moore about the movie Sicko, while Moore when into a blubbery rage about Gupta’s fact-check on the movie. To be fair to Moore, Gupta was arguing a data point where the discrepancy was less than 10% (so it was a big who-cares as far as most of the watching public was concerned). Nevertheless, Gupta simply stated the facts and had no apparent reaction to Moore’s hissy fit. Steady as a rock, as I imagine a neurosurgeon needs to be.

  5. Franklin says:

    Oh, and thanks Brett, for bringing up the matching acronyms – SG for SG?

  6. Brett says:

    Yup.

  7. caj says:

    I think Sanjay is a great choice and he will make a fine Surgeon General..PE Obama is getting some really good people on his team.

  8. Triumph says:

    Don’t you have to be American to be the Surgeon General? The last thing we need is an agent for the Pakistani’s ISI affiliated with the American government.

    Typical liberal move by B. Hussein: sell out our health care to Pakistan.

  9. Brett says:

    Don’t you have to be American to be the Surgeon General? The last thing we need is an agent for the Pakistani’s ISI affiliated with the American government.

    I know you’re too lazy to be arsed to do any real research, but could you at least look at wikipedia before posting your usual stupid shit? Gupta was born and grew up in Michigan – and his family came from India.

    Of course, in Triumph’s America, no brown person can ever be a True American, am I right?

  10. Eneils Bailey says:

    I was hoping for Dr. Phil.

    Or one of those colon-cleansing doctors that come on a TV Cable channel at 4 AM.

    What a bummer, a freaking neurosurgeon talking about a person’s health when we could have a real doctor talking about emptying our bowels.

  11. Triumph says:

    Gupta was born and grew up in Michigan – and his family came from India.

    Of course, in Triumph’s America, no brown person can ever be a True American, am I right?

    Mankas diferencon inter Barato kaj Pakistano. Ambaŭ devus esti parto de La brita Imperio. Multaj el ĉi tiuj homoj havas ligojn iliajn hejmlandojn. Se ni ne prizono ĉi tiuj tipoj ni povus est atak denove.

  12. markm says:

    To be fair to Moore

    wwwwwwwhy?

  13. odograph says:

    I agree with Dave Schuler. He wasn’t so into being a journalist that he forgot he was a doctor.

    I think James’ views are a little harsh (probably sleep deprivation). After all, Surgeon General is primarily a communication and education role. We have history on Gupta doing that, without (to my knowledge) the gaffes.

  14. Brett says:

    Mankas diferencon inter Barato kaj Pakistano. Ambaŭ devus esti parto de La brita Imperio. Multaj el ĉi tiuj homoj havas ligojn iliajn hejmlandojn. Se ni ne prizono ĉi tiuj tipoj ni povus est atak denove.

    It must have been so challenging for you, looking for an on-line English-to-Esperanto translator. Why don’t you try again in a real language, like English or Spanish?

  15. Franklin says:

    After studying a few posts, it has occurred to me that Triumph is a decent troll. Just FYI.

  16. charles johnson says:

    Yeah, Triumph is a fun troll. Problem is, he’s not dumb enough. His faux-crazy ramblings are still 15 iq points higher than bithead’s ‘analysis’.

    Surgeon General is primarily a communication and education role.

    Exactly. This is a brilliant pick. Surgeon General is a position all about communication of health information. Gupta is a SG candidate whose communication skills are unique in my memory as far as such candidates go. He’s also a very well-respected surgeon, and as a bonus Obama is really showing that Americans of all ethnicities and backgrounds have a role in shaping our great nation. The nitwits at Conservapedia who sneer at him as an “Affirmative-Action President” should be ashamed. Obama is showing us that what our country always claimed to be, and sometimes strove to be, actually can be. We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men (and women) are created equal.

  17. sam says:

    I recall that Gupta got into some minor trouble with his honchos at CNN for the surgeries he performed in Iraq–you know, he became part of the story, etc. I recall thinking the CNN folks were idiots for that. Then I thought of Michael Herr in Dispatches, when he wrote that one night he got on the wrong side of the story when he had to help repel a VC attack. If his honchos at Esquire ever knew about this, they never said a word that I know of.

  18. Bithead says:

    His views on teaching schoolchildren to masturbate are unknown.

    Perhaps, but considering who named him to the position, and the number of Clintonistas he’s named to various positions, how would you say that’ll fall out, hmmm?

  19. Bithead says:

    Yeah, Triumph is a fun troll. Problem is, he’s not dumb enough. His faux-crazy ramblings are still 15 iq points higher than bithead’s ‘analysis’.

    The best indication I could get that I’m on the right path, is when you start in with lame crap like this…. thank you.

  20. Michael says:

    Perhaps, but considering who named him to the position, and the number of Clintonistas he’s named to various positions, how would you say that’ll fall out, hmmm?

    You can add comment-547984 to yesterday’s list.

  21. Bithead says:

    So, I’m prohibted from questioning the Chosen One at all?

  22. Michael says:

    So, I’m prohibted from questioning the Chosen One at all?

    I’m not saying you can’t, I’m saying you can’t seem to do anything else.

  23. Drew says:

    “After all, Surgeon General is primarily a communication and education role. We have history on Gupta doing that, without (to my knowledge) the gaffes.”

    Seems to me odo got it right, in a neat and concise fashion.

    But whatup with charles j’s silly rant about “Obama showing the country what is can be….” ??

    I must live in alternative universe; maybe former minority appointees/choices (to weightier positions) like Secys. Rice and Powell, Gov. Palin or Justice Thomas, just to name a few, were just a dream.

  24. Bithead says:

    I’m not saying you can’t, I’m saying you can’t seem to do anything else.

    But that’s the topic.
    You’d rather, perhaps I started discussing beermaking instead?

  25. Bithead says:

    Oh… wait. I see now.
    I’m supposed to be saying nice things about Obama.
    Well, he’s very clean.
    Oh, wait.. that one’s already been covered. Heh… maybe that’s how Biden got to be VP, huh?

  26. Michael says:

    Oh… wait. I see now.
    I’m supposed to be saying nice things about Obama.

    Hey, I’m not saying what you should or should not be doing.

    I’m just saying that if you’re going to complain about everything he does, no matter what it is he actually does, don’t expect anybody to take your criticisms seriously.

  27. Bithead says:

    Tell you what;

    When he does something praiseworthy, he’ll get some from me. So far, he hasn’t managed to do that.

    Translation: Perhaps the problem isn’t that I’m being overly partisan, it’s that he’s not done anything worth praising, yet.

  28. Drew says:

    “His views on teaching schoolchildren to masturbate are unknown.”

    C’mon and sing with me now, Wisconsin-ites…..you put your left hand on, you put your right hand on, you start the thing a’movin’ then you shake it all about……

  29. Drew says:

    Michael says: “I’m just saying that if you’re going to complain about everything he does, no matter what it is he actually does, don’t expect anybody to take your criticisms seriously.”

    Bit retorts:

    “Perhaps the problem isn’t that I’m being overly partisan, it’s that he’s not done anything worth praising, yet.”

    Indeed, a man who ran a campaign devoid of any substance, but just “hope,” “change” and “Vote for me and I’ll give you free stuff” hasn’t really earned any praise yet.

    And currently, all I am hearing is his sychophants telling us what a great job he is doing as PE. PE? PE?

    Professional golfers don’t get judged on the driving range while they warm up, people. They all hit it pure then. Flat damn pure.

    Show me what you got when its the 18th hole on day four…..205 uphill to a tight pin up on the right quadrant of the green…..with a short side bunker that you can’t get up and down from. Oh, by the way, your playing partner, tied with you for the lead, is on the left hand side of the fairway with 6 iron in his hand, and he’s a natural fader. Watcha gonna do, pal?????

    Hammas? Israel?? Iran??? Chinese investment??? Medicare??? Afghanistan??

    Get off the driving range, finish your pre-round “puff” interview and tee the effin ball up, Barack. (Oh, and that OB left……..don’t look at it.)