LeftOut: All Fat, No Meat

The surgeon general nominee again exposes the truth about the Bush team.

The controversial nomination of James W. Holsinger for surgeon general never made much sense. The last thing George W. Bush’s shattered presidency needed was another battle on Capitol Hill at a time when support for the war in Iraq was eroding among key senators. However, after Bush’s former surgeon general, Richard H. Carmona, blasted the administration in July for politicizing the office, the logic behind the Holsinger pick has become crystal clear.

Bush had to select a new surgeon general who was a loyal apparatchik and unquestionably conservative, so the president’s official policy to oppose sound science would never be questioned. Bush needed a willing crony he believed would filter the facts and selected a holy singer from the same right-wing hymn sheet.

The testimony from Carmona in front of the House oversight and government reform committee vacillated between disturbing and alarming. On nearly every crucial public health issue, Carmona was told either to spout the party line or make a beeline away from the topic.

“I was told to stay away from those [controversial issues] because we’ve already decided which way we want to go,” Carmona testified.

In 2001, Bush made great theater when he visited top scientists pretending to be soliciting their advice on stem cells. This charade continued throughout his presidency, but Carmona confirmed that Bush was never truly serious and often muzzled him when he wanted to discuss a topic that held the promise of helping thousands of Americans suffering from debilitating illnesses.

“I was told to stand down and not speak about it,” the former surgeon general said. “It was removed from my speeches.”

What remained in his public addresses, however, was mandated praise for the president and his policies. Carmona was commanded to mention Bush at least three times on every page of his speeches, the New York Times reported. Carmona was also ordered to “water down” a groundbreaking report on the dangers of second-hand smoke that was deliberately delayed for years. Additionally, the administration pressured him into ignoring the risk of global warming, with officials taking the position that the crisis was a liberal hoax.

Not surprisingly, Bush’s grossly irresponsible and potentially murderous policy of “abstinence only” education was promoted. Carmona said he tried to stress the importance of contraceptives, but was rebuffed.

“However, there was already a policy in place that did not want to hear the science but wanted to preach abstinence only, but I felt the science was incorrect.”

In a sickening turn, Carmona recounted that administration officials urged him to snub the Special Olympics because the Kennedy family was involved.

“I was specifically told by a senior person, ‘Why would you want to help those people?'” he recalled.

So, this pro-STD-spreading, pro-global warming, pro-secondhand smoke, pro-Bush-ass-kissing, anti-stem cell cure, anti-Special Olympics administration needed a surgeon general to parrot its political agenda. Into this filthy, dirt-sucking villainous vacuum emerged Holsinger, a peculiar, homosexually obsessed holy roller who once started a Kentucky trailer church with an “ex-gay” ministry.

While this is hardly a rational pick for the nation’s top doctor, it is ideal for the Bush administration. Having just had its credibility battered by Richard “Dr. No” Carmona, the president desperately had to find a Dr. Yes. A cheerleading lackey was needed to rubber-stamp Bush’s anti-health policies. Based on Holsinger’s backward views, he may fit the bill. I’m afraid if confirmed, Holsinger’s press releases might sound like “Mickey,” the Toni Basil ’80s hit:

“Oh Bushie you’re so fine./Science we will undermine./ Hey Bushie!”

The biggest hurdle to Holsinger’s confirmation–scheduled to be considered by Congress this month following the August recess–is an amateurish 1991 paper he wrote for the Methodist church titled “Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality,” which portrayed homosexuality as more unnatural than Michael Jackson’s face and more dangerous than a hunting trip with Dick Cheney. The report had all the scientific validity of the propaganda spit out by tobacco companies and the puerile voyeurism found in the Starr Report detailing Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

I suspect that Holsinger will try to dodge this troubling paper by attempting to refocus the hearings on his advocacy of reducing childhood obesity. However, America needs to know if his devotion to fat is really just political cover for serving as a malleable mouthpiece in an administration with a science policy that has no meat.

Wayne Besen, author of the books Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth and the new Bashing Back: Wayne Besen on GLBT People, Politics, and Culture (Harrington Park), writes a weekly column published at He is executive director of Truth Wins Out, an organization that monitors the activity of so-called ex-gay ministries. Daryl Moore returns in October.

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