Senator Bernie Sanders announced that he would vote against confirmation of President Bush's nominee for surgeon general because he is unconvinced that Dr. James W. Holsinger would withstand pressure from White House political operatives who muzzled the last surgeon general.
Sanders, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, announced his decision after a confirmation hearing. Holsinger was questioned about his independence in light of revelations earlier this week that Dr. Richard Carmona, whose term expired in July, was silenced by the Bush administration on embryonic stem cell research, mental health care, smoking and other health issues. He also was ordered to insert President Bush's name at least three times on each page of his speeches, a demand Sanders called "outrageous."
Sanders said: "At a time when the administration muzzled the previous surgeon general, censored his remarks, controlled his travel, and - unbelievably - told him how many times in a page he had to mention President Bush, we need a surgeon general who is prepared to stand up to an extremely ideological administration and resist that pressure. We need a surgeon general who will stand up for the scientific and medical needs of the American people. While I was impressed by his intelligence and with some of his positions on issues, I simply do not believe that Dr. Holsinger is the right person for this important position at this moment in American history."
To listen to Sanders question Holsinger, click here.
To read The New York Times editorial Sanders cited on White House meddling with the surgeon general, click here.