Friday, August 14, 2009

Are You Serious?

Who is this woman and what role does she play in Obama's administration? Meet Dr. Regina Benjamin, Obama's nominee for Surgeon General. According to the National Library of Medicine, "Profiles in Science," the Surgeon General's main official duty has been to "advise the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Assistant Secretary of Health on affairs of preventive health, medicine, and health policy." [emphasis mine] In other words, the Surgeon General's role is as a mouthpiece for the administration to talk about public health issues.

So maybe I'm confused, but what has Obama been talking about as this country's main public health issue? [Answer: Not smoking; according to the Secret Service, Obama continues to light up regularly.] Isn't Obama The One who has been railing against people in this country for their obesity? Isn't Obama The One who on the campaign stump was saying that if this country could go back to the obesity levels of the 1980s, we could save gob-zillions of dollars on health care? Isn't Obama The One who has said that fighting the epidemic of this country's obesity is at the heart of his ObamaCare health plan? In fact, Obama's Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, has gone so far as to say that the Obama administration will "require" health insurance plans to cover weight loss programs. I'd like to be a fly on the wall when Sebelius and Benjamin get together for a little bit of obesity "advising."

See where I'm going with this? Obama, did you notice your new pick for Surgeon General, you know, the one who is your preventive health advisor, is fat? In fact, at size 20, she's obese. At a time when nearly half of the adults and one-third of the children in this country are overweight, does choosing a fat person for Surgeon General make any sense?

Then there's that other sort of embarrassing issue, recently uncovered about Dr. Benjamin, where it turns out she's been paid $10,000 over the past year for serving on an advisory board for Burger King. Although Benjamin declined an interview to talk about this work, Burger King officials said that she served on the company's "nutritional advisory panel," formed last year as part of the company's "ongoing efforts to promote balanced diets and active lifestyle choices." I'm just wondering here, but how "active" would a person's lifestyle need to be in order to "balance" eating a Double Whopper and medium fries, at a total of 81 grams of fat?

I have no quarrel with Dr. Benjamin, herself, as an individual. No doubt she's a nice person, dedicated to her profession, with stellar professional qualifications--although as Surgeon General with her girth it's hard to see how she can make effective arguments for good lifestyle choices. My real quarrel is with Obama and the indefensible choices he's making in filling the positions in his administration. An obese woman with ties to the fast food industry, however well-intentioned those ties may be, hardly seems like a good choice for Surgeon General. It sort of reminds me, on a smaller scale, of one of Obama's other choices, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, the "indispensible whiz kid," aka "Tax Cheat Timmy." It matters that Barry Obama has had so little experience in anything other than academia or community organizing: personnel choices can be tricky, and so far Barry's choices have revealed him to be the inexperienced boob we thought he was.

This is where I get to end with the obligatory, What if George Bush had done it?

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