Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Ratings Rule in Obama's "Virtual" Cabinet

Ratings Rule in Obama's "Virtual" Cabinet



Will Gupta's ratings explode with Surgeon General nod?

Corporate Media's Sanjay Gupta, MD for Top Doc


Michael Collins

The appointment of television celebrity, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, MD, as Surgeon General of the United States looks like the boldest step yet in the creation of a "virtual" cabinet by President-elect Barack Obama.

It's looking like cabinet members are being selected on the basis of "marketability and comfort" rather than qualifications and ideology, with two or three exceptions.

Gupta looks like a trial balloon for the full implementation of virtual politics. Unlike the first wave of appointments which portrayed "comforting stability," Gupta provides both the comfort factor and a near total absence of qualifications.

Previous Obama cabinet picks emphasized the absence of clear ideology while paying lip service to qualifications. For example, Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of Treasury pick, and Larry Summers, named to head the National Economic Council, both seem to have impressive resumes in banking and finance. Obama insiders made what appears to be a safe bet that the public wouldn't notice that both were up to their necks in the recent economic crash and tens of billions in Wall Street welfare.

Summers helped repeal key provisions of the federal Glass-Steagall Act in 1999. These provisions have been in place since the Great Depression. They kept banks from trading in high risk securities. With the reins loosened, banks recklessly invested billions in high risk schemes that led to the recent crash. At the signing ceremony in 1999, Summers said to the New York Times: "With this bill the American financial system takes a major step forward toward the 21st Century -- one that will benefit American consumers, business and the national economy." Some step. Some century.

As head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, Geithner gave an interview to Jenny Anderson of the New York Times in Feb. 2007. When asked about the high risk credit derivatives market, a risk he claimed that he'd addressed, Geithner said: "The fact that the banks are stronger and risk is spread more broadly should make the system more stable. We can’t know that with certainty though. We’ll have a test of that when things next threaten to fall apart." Will anybody mention that we've had Mr. Geithner's anticipated "test" and things did "fall apart" because the banks were weaker not "stronger."

Team Obama's attitude seems to be, 'Who cares! Those were one day stories. After all, these guys look good on paper and we can handle the storyline from here.'

The duties of the U.S. Surgeon General include: acting as the chief advocate for programs that promote public health; articulating "scientifically based health policy;" promoting national health initiatives; and administering the doctors and personnel of the Public Health Service. While party affiliation plays a role, the criteria for the job are a distinguished career in medicine and a strong interest in assuring the public well being. The office is typically occupied by a physician with a strong background in public health.

Former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, MD, appointed by Pres. Reagan in 1981, was a controversial choice for the position due to his outspoken opposition to abortion. By presidential request, Koop began a study of HIV AIDS at the start of 1986, wrote a report, and arranged for delivery to 107 million homes by the end of the year. It was an accurate, honest, assessment of the risks of AIDS without any judgment as to the causes. He knew the science and spoke out forcefully. He did this over the objections of Reagan loyalists who wanted to avoid the topic and regularly sought to have Koop fired.

Gupta is both absent any discernable political ideology and clearly lacks the traditional qualifications for the position of Surgeon General. This fits nicely into the virtual cabinet model. He looks good on television and corporate America finds him "easy to dance to."

In addition, Gupta earned his corporate media spurs with his "hit job" on Michael Moore's powerful and popular film, "Sicko" which showed the inadequacies of our health care delivery system.

Gupta tried to discredit Moore's favorable reports on national health programs in Canada, France, and Cuba by referencing a leading health industry figure who had ridiculed the programs. Moore responded that the expert was aligned with big pharma and health insurance companies, a point Gupta vigorously denied. Gupta was wrong. The expert was heavily affiliated with corporate health industry interests. Gupta either didn't know this or he deliberately lied.

Frank Rich described what we may see more of with Surgeon General Gupta, MD. The television doctor was an embedded medical reporter during the Iraq invasion. He operated on a two year old Iraqi boy with a serious head injury. CNN ran promotions of the surgery "all day long." In the 2003 column, Rich noted: "Lest anyone not grasp the most important moral of this incident, Dr. Gupta himself declared that 'it was a heroic attempt to try to save the child's life'' after the child had died.'"

Gupta pitched an updated version of MASH as a television series a year later based on his Iraq experience.

We've reached an important milestone in the Orwellian world of U.S. politics. The pretence of reality has been dropped. Rather than simply keeping the people from being upset, the new virtual cabinet approach will sooth us with virtual reality featuring familiar faces and a comforting storyline.

Hopefully, citizens will have better luck with public health than Dr. Gupta had with his Iraqi patient.

END

Permission to reproduce in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Faisal Al-Asaad: Gaza: McCully’s Calls For Restraint On Both Sides Is Side-Taking Itself

Since June 12th, the world’s attention has been squarely focused on the events unfolding in the West Bank, Gaza and the occupied territories. The disappearance of three Israeli youths who were later found dead prompted a flurry of condemnations ... More>>

ALSO:

Tania Billingsley: Demand For Accountability On Sexual Assault

Since my assault I feel that people have been assuming that my idea of justice is to have Rizalman found guilty in a New Zealand court. While it is an important part of justice being done, my main reason for wanting this is not for my own sense of ... More>>

Leslie Bravery: Hold The Perpetrator To Account, Not The Victim!

In a 4 July 2014 statement to Scoop Independent News, on the violent deaths of four young people in the Israeli Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully made the following comments: 'The recent killing ... More>>

ALSO:

Santon Tekege: Investigative Report Into Oil Palm In Nabire Regency, Papua

Several companies’ plans to invest in the oil palm sector in Nabire have met with local opposition. People from the Yerisiam and Wate ethnic groups have staged several peaceful actions in Nabire against one of these companies, PT Nabire Baru1. More>>

ALSO:

Redress Information: Putting The Death Of The Israeli Squatter Teens In Context

The Western media are awash with correspondents’ reports on the grief Israelis are experiencing over the death of three teenagers. The teenagers, the sons of Jewish squatters living on stolen Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, who disappeared ... More>>

ALSO:

Liran Antebi: United States: Prepared For Military Intervention In Iraq?

Following the seizure of Iraq’s main cities by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), there has been much discussion about possible US military intervention in Iraq. Since the ISIS campaign began, a small American force of 275 soldiers has been ... More>>

John Chuckman: Iraq, ISIS, And Intervention: Just What Is Going On?

As so often is the case in foreign affairs, we will never know with precision what is happening in Iraq. The governments involved have reasons to disguise what they are doing, and a number of governments are indeed at work there. More>>

Joel Cosgrove: MANA and Industrial Relations: “Between equal rights, force decides”

Fightback participates in the MANA Movement, whose stated mission is to bring “rangatiratanga to the poor, the powerless and the dispossessed.” Capitalism was imposed in Aotearoa through colonisation, and the fight for indigenous self-determination is intimately ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
TEDxAuckland
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news