Ex-Surgeon General Should Apologize, Not Complain

Richard Carmona was America’s Surgeon General from 2002-2006. Last week he revealed that for four years, the White House told him what to say and what not to say, regardless of science or public health.

In the safety of a Democratic Congressional Committee hearing, a full year after his last Washington paycheck, Carmona complained that information that doesn’t fit President Bush’s “ideological, theological, or political agenda is often ignored, marginalized, or simply buried.”

This is consistent with the current Republican theocracy’s dismantling of science as a respectable, objective pursuit. For six years we’ve heard about this regularly, from world-class NASA scientists down to high school biology teachers and even the fired U.S. Attorneys. More Americans believe in the Rapture than in Evolution. This will prepare us quite well to live in the shadow of China and India in decades to come.

But Carmona is no victim here—he is a perpetrator. He implemented, or silently acquiesced in, disgusting decisions regarding abstinence-only sex “education,” the withholding of emergency contraception, the near-destruction of stem-cell research, the hysteria over the HPV/cervical cancer vaccine, the undermining of gynecology training of medical students, federal funding of anti-abortion centers, and the creation of an anti-child molestation panic.

Carmona was an accomplice to the creation of sexuality as America’s Number One Public Health Problem.

And for this he cannot be forgiven.

Why didn’t Carmona complain publicly on the eve of the 2004 elections? Why didn’t he resign to great media fanfare when it would have done some good? Why didn’t he announce that Americans are risking the health of their children?

Thanks for telling us what we already know, Mr. Ex-Surgeon General—after you’ve dreadfully damaged the nation’s health. What a coward you are.

For the record, Mr. Carmona has already taken his next job serving the nation’s health—as CEO of Canyon Ranch Resort and Spa.


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