With a Senate committee voting to confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy (shown) as the new U.S. surgeon general 13-9 last week, he is expected to win confirmation to the post by the full Senate later this week.
If there were a candidate more perfectly qualified to occupy the bully pulpit as surgeon general in the Obama administration, one would be hard pressed to find him.
Born to Indian parents in Huddersfield, England, Murthy moved with his parents to Miami, Florida, when he was three. A child prodigy, he breezed through high school, graduating in 1994 after being named valedictorian. He attended Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude in just three years with a degree in biochemical sciences. Just seven years later he graduated from the Yale School of Medicine with an M.D. and an MBA from Yale’s School of Management.
Just 27, Murthy then began to apply himself, founding three medical service and support companies: TrialNetworks, Epernicus, and Visions Worldwide. Along the way he made time to found Doctors for Obama in 2008, which gathered some 15,000 physicians from around the country to push then-Senator Barack Obama into the White House, supporting Obama’s healthcare initiative from the very first day. He and his group organized marches on Washington, filed friends of the court briefs before the Supreme Court in favor of ObamaCare, and took strong positions against the Second Amendment.
He began Doctors for Obama because he perceived a vacuum in politics that could and should be filled by liberal doctors who knew best how government ought to run healthcare. He observed,
[I] was struck by how few physicians were organizing and gathering their ideas to actually make an impact on the candidates’ platforms and, ultimately, on a health reform bill….
A few colleagues and I began Doctors for America [the name was changed following Obama’s victory in 2008] with a simple belief that physicians should play a leadership role in designing and running our nation’s health care system.
His virulent anti-gun bias showed up in numerous places, including a tweet from before the 2012 reelection of the president: “[I am] tired of politicians playing politics w/ guns, putting lives at risk b/c they’re scared of NRA. Guns are a health care issue.” His Doctors for America (DFA) has exhibited its extreme agenda, pushing Congress to ban “assault” weapons and “high-capacity” magazines, and spending more tax dollars for more research to prove that fewer guns would lower the crime rate.
His group also promotes the invasion of privacy by doctors by allowing them to ask patients if they have guns at home, and pushing back against Florida Governor Rick Snyder’s decision to sign into law a bill prohibiting doctors there from asking the question. The group disparaged the law, calling it “Docs v. Glocks — Florida’s Gag Rule on Doctors” instead of calling it by its correct name: a bill to protect the privacy of individuals living in Florida.
Murthy has all the right friends. During his testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee last week, hard-left Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) waxed eloquent about the doctor:
Murthy demonstrated that he is an excellent choice to serve as the next US Surgeon General. The Surgeon General is uniquely positioned to develop and implement strategies to promote health and wellness and to drive disease prevention strategies in our nation.
Dr. Murthy’s extraordinary medical and public health accomplishments show that he is well-qualified to continue that mission and I am confident that Dr. Murthy will help to greatly improve the health of Americans today and long into the future.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, added his encomiums for Murthy:
Our nation is plagued by not getting the value we deserve for our health care dollar and we are far too dependent on sick care over prevention and wellness. We as a nation can do better, and I would strongly argue that we should strive to be the healthiest nation.
The next surgeon general should use the bully pulpit of the office to be an outspoken, science-driven, effective leader.
Dr. Vivek Murthy is up to the task and should be confirmed without delay.
Others weren’t nearly as sympathetic, proving that it takes not only the right friends to get along in Washington, but the right enemies as well. Wrote Dr. Manny Alvarez for Fox News:
In my humble opinion … Murthy does not qualify to our nation’s doctor. My criticism is based largely on Murthy’s level of clinical experience. Murthy is 36 years old….
To me a doctor is a man or a woman who actively dedicates his or her life to the art of healing — and that cannot be achieved overnight….
Is Murthy qualified to run such an important health care oversight service? In my opinion he would not even qualify to run a department at an academic medical center at this point in his career….
To me, health care should be 80 percent science and 20 percent politics — not the other way around.
Murthy counts among the enemies to his nomination the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), which took pains to point out his rabid anti-gun positions:
Dr. Murthy has a long history of anti-gun activity. As President and Co-Founder of Doctors for America (DFA), he organized and directed campaigns seeking to place limits on the ability of Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
For example, in a recent letter to Congress, Dr. Murthy called for an outright federal ban on many of the most commonly purchased firearms and ammunition in the U.S. Under the guise of "gun safety," he is aggressively lobbying for doctors and the medical community to confront gun owners with spurious facts on gun ownership during visits and checkups.
Dr. Murthy's use of the medical community as a tool to intimidate gun owners and their family members represents an egregious abuse of doctors and their bond of trust with their patients. His vocal support for DFA's "Docs Against Glocks" initiative is a telling example.
If Dr. Murthy is confirmed, there is no question he would use the full resources of his office to coerce doctors and medical staff into injecting an anti-gun philosophy in patients' medical care. This is unacceptable.
Murthy has also enhanced his anti-gun credentials by incurring the wrath of the National Rifle Association (NRA). In its latest newsletter, the NRA spelled out the danger of turning the doctor’s pulpit into a political voice box for anti-gun tirades:
The public must trust that the Surgeon General's actions and recommendations are based on empirical and scientific evidence, rather than political or ideological motives. Unfortunately, Murthy's record of political activism in support of radical gun control measures raises significant concerns about the likelihood he would use the office of Surgeon General to further his preexisting campaign against gun ownership.
Recent actions by Murthy add to the NRA’s concerns:
A recent letter sent to Congress by "Doctors for America," and signed by Dr. Murthy, urges mandatory licensing "for anyone purchasing guns and ammunition — including mandatory firearm safety training and testing."
Under Dr. Murthy's scheme, further regulations would place "limits on the purchase of ammunition," and establish a "mandatory waiting period of at least 48 hours."
So there it is: The perfect candidate to help fulfill the president’s dream of a gun-free totalitarian society. He has the intelligence, the education, the experience, the ideology, the right friends in high places, along with the right enemies.
Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has changed the rules so that it will take only 51 votes to confirm, Dr. Murthy is expected to win the nomination in a walk. This will give the president another voice from the left promoting increased limitations on Americans of their right to keep and bear arms guaranteed under the Second Amendment. Murthy will join the chorus in the continuing long war against guns.
Photo of Vivek Murthy: AP Images