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CNN’s Sanjay Gupta for surgeon general. What next?

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By Michelle Malkin  •  January 6, 2009 04:05 PM

Celebrity idol Barack Obama picks another celebrity to head up the surgeon general’s office.

Howard Kurtz reports that CNN’s Sanjay Gupta has been tapped for the job.

At least it wasn’t Deepak Chopra.

What next? Judge Judy for the next Supreme Court opening?

I vote for celebrity bounty hunter Duane “The Dog” Chapman to head the Border Patrol.

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Some defenders point to Gupta’s good work as an embed with a Navy unit, during which he performed brain surgery five times.

Commendable, no question. But just for comparison, here’s the biography and record of accomplishment of the current acting surgeon general:

Biography of the Acting Surgeon General
Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H.

Since October 2007, Rear Admiral Steven K. Galson, M.D., M.P.H., has served as the Acting Surgeon General. As the nation’s top public health physician, the Surgeon General communicates the best science, evidence, and data to the American people for them to make healthy choices that impact their health, safety, and security. Additionally, he serves as the operational Commander of the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service (PHS), a uniformed force of 6,000 health professional officers dedicated to promoting, protecting, and advancing the health and safety of the people of the United States.

Prior to his appointment as Acting Surgeon General, he served as the Director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). As the director, RADM Galson oversaw CDER’s broad national and international programs in pharmaceutical regulation and provided leadership for 2300 physicians, statisticians, chemists, pharmacologists and other scientists, as well as administrators whose work promoted and protected public health by ensuring that safe and effective drugs are available to the American public.

RADM Galson began his Public Health Service career as an epidemiological investigator at the Centers for Disease Control after completing a residency in internal medicine at the Hospitals of the Medical College of Pennsylvania. He has held senior-level positions at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Energy where he was the Chief Medical Officer, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

RADM Galson received his Baccalaureate Degree from Stony Brook University in 1978, an M.D. from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in 1983, and a M.P.H. from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1990. He is Board Certified in General Preventive Medicine and Public Health as well as in Occupational Medicine.
RADM Galson is the recipient of numerous PHS awards, the Robert Brutsche Award from the Commissioned Officers Association of the USPHS and the Founders Award from the Association of Military Surgeons of the US. He is also the recipient of three Secretary of Energy Gold Awards.

Here’s Gupta’s bio, which includes the following:

Before joining CNN, Gupta was a fellow in neurosurgery at the University of Tennessee’s Semmes-Murphy clinic, and before that, the University of Michigan Medical Center. He became partner of the Great Lakes Brain and Spine Institute in 2000, and in 1997, he was chosen as a White House Fellow — one of only 15 fellows appointed. He served as special advisor to first lady Hillary Clinton.

Gupta has been published in a variety of scientific journals and has received numerous accolades. His health reports swept all three health and medical awards in 2006 – the first year the National Headliner Awards honored such journalism in a dedicated category. Also in 2006, his report, “Sabrina’s Law,” earned him his first Clarion award, and “Charity Hospital,” his first Emmy®. He is also a contributor to 60 Minutes and the Evening News with Katie Couric on CBS.

In 2003, he was named one of PEOPLE magazine’s “Sexiest Men Alive” and a “pop culture icon” by USA Today.

Commenter MadMoney: “Remember the primary function of the SG is to basically be the public health scold – dont forget Dr. Koop telling us all to quit smoking. By those standards, Gupta is totally qualified. I think conservatives should ask, why do we even have a Surgeon General, and why is it worth our tax dollars, and how constitutional is it anyway?”

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Yes, I remember Gupta’s smackdown of Michael Moore over Sicko. Mary Katharine Ham points to a few other moments of Gupta’s clarity. I wouldn’t get your hopes up, though. On the core health care policy issues that matter to Obama, I will bet you he’ll have little if any input.

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