Gupta an inspired choice for Surgeon General

Articles
January 29, 2009

Gupta an inspired choice for Surgeon General

What good is a U.S. Surgeon General as the chief public health officer if that individual only keeps in line with administration policies, shies away from controversy even if it would serve the nation, and fails to communicate in clear, cogent ways to an American public struggling with obesity, dietary plans gone awry, diseases that persist, and runaway health care costs? How many readers could name two who held this post since Dr. C. Everett Koop reviled cigarette smoking and made AIDS a health issue rather than a moral topic in the years under President Ronald Reagan? That’s precisely the point. The U.S. may not be in a health crisis, but with our broken system the nation needs health leadership, and that could come in a revitalization of the Surgeon General post—if President Barack Obama makes the right appointment. When Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the neurosurgeon and correspondent for CNN and CBS, and Time magazine columnist, was offered the role, one word came to mind at SupermarketGuru.com: Brilliant.

What good is a U.S. Surgeon General as the chief public health officer if that individual only keeps in line with administration policies, shies away from controversy even if it would serve the nation, and fails to communicate in clear, cogent ways to an American public struggling with obesity, dietary plans gone awry, diseases that persist, and runaway health care costs?

How many readers could name two who held this post since Dr. C. Everett Koop reviled cigarette smoking and made AIDS a health issue rather than a moral topic in the years under President Ronald Reagan? 

That’s precisely the point.

The U.S. may not be in a health crisis, but with our broken system the nation needs health leadership, and that could come in a revitalization of the Surgeon General post—if President Barack Obama makes the right appointment.

When Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the neurosurgeon and correspondent for CNN and CBS, and Time magazine columnist, was offered the role, one word came to mind at SupermarketGuru.com: Brilliant.

We think Dr. Gupta would make an inspired choice for an important role that’s lacked vision for decades.  He’s an accomplished physician at Emory University School of Medicine and a media star, someone who helps millions understand key health issues of the time through his broadcasts and writings. He is a familiar and trusted face, and he’s no sheltered talking-head. He performed brain surgery five times while serving as a journalist with a U.S. Navy unit called Devil Docs during the 2003 Iraq invasion. He wrote speeches for and advised Hillary Clinton when she was first lady.

To us, two quotes help sum up why we feel he’s grounded and worthy of the role:

“I’m a doctor first….If I had to choose one [profession] today, I’d choose medicine,” he told the Washington Post in 2006.

“Healthier cities are successful cities. I would focus on increasing the amount of green space, because it is good for the earth and for our bodies.  I might buy thousands of bikes, paint them a really ugly color (so people wouldn’t steal them) and simply distribute them around a city,” he told the website Wordchanging.com last month.

He presents clear, simple images that connect with people. Critics, take down your scalpels against this potential appointment, and let Dr. Gupta proceed to make his timely health points with the nation.