Last week, we learned that the Administration’s incessant pandering to the fringes of the Republican Party served to silence our nation’s top public health official to the detriment of both our country and the Republican Party. Catering to extremist elements to mold objective science to fit an out-of-touch social and religious agenda is unacceptable and un-American. Republican Presidential candidates must reject such pandering by our government and return to the core principles of the Party if they hope to not only gain the Presidential nomination but also restore trust in the moderate majority of the GOP.
Former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona’s testimony in front of Congress last week was deeply disturbing, and revealed the extent to which extreme ideology pervades public policy reasoning in this current political climate. Objective science has often been replaced with theological interpretation, and playing politics is now trumping public health. Here are a few of Dr. Carmona’s more disturbing allegations:
Dr. Carmona was ordered not to discuss or issue reports about embryonic stem cells, emergency contraception (Plan B), sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/10/washington/11cnd-surgeon.html?ex=1341720000&en=0ca10e032df9e70f&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
On the issue of embryonic stem cell research, Dr. Carmona stated that he was “told to stand down and not speak about it.” He further explained that, “Much of the discussion was being driven by theology, ideology, [and] preconceived beliefs that were scientifically incorrect.” http://www.ajc.com/opinion/content/opinion/tucker/stories/2007/07/13/tucked_0715.html
While Dr. Carmona favored comprehensive sex education, the Bush administration favored abstinence-only education. Dr. Carmona stated that the Bush administration “did not want to hear the science, but wanted to quote, unquote preach abstinence, which I felt was scientifically incorrect.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-carmona_11jul11,1,2126192.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed
Dr. Carmona asserted that the Bush administration repeatedly made decisions about important public health issues based solely on political considerations. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/10/washington/11cnd-surgeon.html?ex=1341720000&en=0ca10e032df9e70f&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss
In Dr. Carmona’s words, “Anything that doesn’t fit into the political appointees’ ideological, theological or political agenda is often ignored, marginalized or simply buried.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-carmona_11jul11,1,2126192.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed
The Surgeon General should not be a political tool, but rather a national ombudsman for public health. Objective science must trump ideological fancy. Candidates who wish to lead the country and lead in Congress must appeal to the broadest spectrum of voters, and not twist their positions and the facts to fit the mold of the far right’s obstinate ideal. Real Republicans seek to bring people together and forge common sense solutions. Real Republicans value privacy, responsibility, small government and individual liberty. Most importantly, real Republicans understand that our country is at a crossroad and we need true leadership and a focus on urgent issues like the war on terror, solutions to the crisis in Iraq and reigning in government waste and spending. Now is the time for real Republicans to remember our roots, our history and our record for success in this country.
The time for pandering is over.