Rumor has it that President-Elect Obama has offered the position of Surgeon General to CNN and Time magazine’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
I don’t really know what it is, precisely, that the Surgeon General does. I could not tell you anyone who has held the job during the Bush administration. I remember C. Everett Koop from Bush 1, and the huge fundie Christian whoop-de-do over Jocelyn Elders, who suggested that teaching kids about masturbation might be an effective way to prevent the spread of STD’s.
But, it seems to me, the S.G.’s job is, essentially, like the head of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness – a figurehead whose job is to spread the gospel on various matters of the day. For Physical Fitness, that’s on the benefits of nutrition and exercise; for the S.G., the benefits of not smoking, using condoms, whatever. In which case, this is pretty much exactly what Dr. Gupta has been doing for years, so he seems like a good enough choice, if a little odd to pick someone who’s a bit of a gloryhound.