President Bush's nominee for surgeon general fielded questions from Senator Bernie Sanders and other members of the Senate Health Committee. Dr. James W. Holsinger was asked about his independence in light of revelations earlier this week that Dr. Richard Carmona, whose term expired in July, was muzzled by Bush administration political forces on embryonic stem cell research, mental health care, smoking and other health issues. He also was under orders to insert President Bush's name at least three times on each page of his speeches, a demand Sanders called "outrageous."
"No matter how qualified you may be, Dr. Holsinger, what we are hearing from the White House is that you may not be able to do your job. They will dictate what your job is…The difficulty that I am having is not necessarily the strengths or weakness of your qualifications, be that as it may, it is your willingness to stand up to this administration and say that I have a job to do to be the doctor for all of the American people and not just espouse a right-wing political ideology."
Holsinger asserted that he would resign rather than allow politics to push aside science.
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.