artguptascrubscnn.thumbnail.jpgThere are people picking on Obama’s of choice of  Dr Sanjay Gupta for Surgeon General. And not because he’s like all cute and stuff, because when does being cute disqualify one from public office? And if his cute came with qualifications, everyone would be fine with paging Dr. Gupta.

Today Rep.John Conyers joined the voices, including Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman in  expressing dismay over the telegenic Lipitor shill  whose work for AccentHealth, as LaFiga mentioned yesterday, is kinda blurry.

In the letter to his Democratic colleagues, Conyers  writes:

there are highly experienced medical professionals who question whether Dr. Gupta has the necessary experience or even the medical background to be in charge of some 6,000 physicians or more who work in the United States Public Health Service… Clearly, it is not in the best interests of the nation to have someone like this who lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial health care assistance to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in America.

The Surgeon General operationally heads the 6,000-member Commissioned Corps of the USPHS, a cadre of health professionals who are on call 24 hours a day, and can be dispatched by the Secretary of HHS or the Assistant Secretary for Health in the event of a public health emergency. Like oh say, an outbreak of samonella in 42 states?

A public health emergency…those are chilling words. And is the handsome neurosurgeon up for that? Howard Dean, himself a doctor thinks Gupta is good choice. Well, okay then…

Conyers quotes Gerard M. Farrel, Executive Director of the Commissioned Officers Association saying Gupta

does not have the "experience or qualifications to be the leader of the nation’s public health service."

It is vital to have a Surgeon General whose vision is more that "take two of Brand Names and watch me discuss it on the teevee."   Gupta is slick polished, he’s eloquent, and he’s media savvy.   It’s quite possible that his familiar face will be an asset to the president, who can make use of him to send out the presidential message of health and explain Obama’s health plan, which hopefully will be one of affordable, preventative care and swift affordable access to services for all.

Hopefully along with raising the the issues of experience and policy during the confirmation process, Congress will ask for a full disclosure of all speaker fees, corporate sponsors, payments, salaries and sources of income for Dr Gupta, thus laying all these matter to rest.

But will Gupta want to give his income streams–the televsion contracts, fer instance, for the gig? But again, it does come with a cool uniform.