Carol Platt Liebau: Behind the Carmona Controversy

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Behind the Carmona Controversy

Pieces like this are reporting former Surgeon General Richard Carmona's dissatisfaction with what he described as "muzzling" from The White House.

From what I have learned, this reporting is somewhat misleading insofar as it treats this phenomenon, first, as emanating from The White House itself, and, second, as an indictment of the Bush Administration in particular.

A very good friend and former colleague worked closely with Dr. Carmona during the time in question. The source of Carmona's frustration was not, in fact, The White House as much as it was Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. The Thompson people at HHS viewed Carmona (generally perceived within the Department as attractive and charismatic) as a threat. Accordingly, they did everything they could -- in remarkably petty ways -- to make his life difficult, including stepping on his press coverage and preventing him from participating in events that they feared would result in too much visibility or positive publicity.

Not surprisingly, Carmona -- who had no previous political experience -- was angered and frustrated by the Thompson machinations, and was less than adept in fighting back. But my source also noted that the petty infighting wasn't even restricted to the political appointees at the Department; there was a lot of the same kind of behavior emanating even from the career staff at HHS.

Carmona was presumably warned that if he got into bed with House Democrats in airing his complaints about the Administration, it would be used as a political football rather than provoking the reforms of the Surgeon General's position that Carmona seriously believes are needed. That may be why Carmona probably insisted on bringing with him C.Everett Koop and David Satcher -- as a way to make the point that the lack of independence to which he's objecting, and the pernicious effects flowing therefrom, aren't associated exclusively with the Bush Administration.

That's obviously not the message that's getting out; perhaps it's just one more example of Dr. Carmona's lack of experience in the political arena.


Blogger stackja1945 said...

Why have well-meaning amatuers in politics? The Dems love them. They help the Dems and not the GOP.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Earth to Carol said...

I, as well as, many Americans have been truly blessed, to be raised by a mother and father who put their family and their children's health first. They will never tolerate the politicization of public heath by Bush or his political appointees.

Just look at aids and Reagan for how dangerous the politicization of public health is. The first case of aids was documented in '69 and the second '76. I recall in the late 70's scientists outraged that the CDC was not working to wipe this out before it spread. Even when Rock Hudson died, Reagan turned a blind eye to his dear friend and 20,000 other people who died from aids that year. Now over 3 million die of aids each year. This is Reagan's real legacy.

3:56 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home