Sunday, July 29, 2007

Meddling With Public Health

Today's Washington Post revealed the specific machinations behind the Bush administration's gagging of former Surgeon General Richard Carmona. Carmona testified to congress earlier this month about the obfuscation and silencing of reports from the SG's office. There are no surprises here, except for perhaps the extent of nepotism and good-'ole-boyness in government right now.

The individual responsible for carrying out the long arm of the Bush/Cheney law is William Steiger. Heres some background:
Steiger, 37, is a godson of former president George H.W. Bush and the son of a moderate Republican who represented Wisconsin in the House and hired a young Dick Cheney as an intern. The elder Bush appointed Steiger's mother to the Federal Trade Commission in 1989. Steiger's parents, now deceased, were "lifelong friends" of the Rumsfelds and the Bushes.
In reference to a report on global health, Carmona said that a senior Bush aide (now known to be Steiger) told him "this will be a political document, or it will not be released." The Post reports that
Steiger said that "political considerations" did not delay the report; "sloppy work, poor analysis, and lack of scientific rigor did." Asked about the report's handling, an HHS spokeswoman said Friday that it is still "under development."
This all comes from a man without any public health or scientific experience or credentials. So what are his credentials, apart from being born into the right family? A Department of Health and Human Services spokesman invites us
"to look at his skills as an executive leader in spite of the fact that he doesn't have a medical degree or a public health degree."
I am not buying that. How about this insight from a different career HHS employee:
"Steiger always had his political hat on," he said. "I don't think public health was what his vision was. What he was looking for, and in general what he was always looking for, was, 'How do we promote the policies and the programs of the administration?'"
There it is! The chief qualification for being a Bush appointee: Never cautious about giving your boss an "Atta Boy!" Steiger had it. Carmona didn't. Carmona's out. Steiger's in. Let's tell him what he's won: Steiger is now awaiting a Senate vote on his nomination as Bush's ambassador to Mozambique. Send your senator an email. Ask him or her to vote no for Steiger. Tell the Senate you've had enough of Bush's patsies. For his political meddling with public health reports, Steiger gets a thumbs down from me on scientific integrity. From Bush et al., he gets an ambassadorship? Just say no!

1 comment:

The Ridger, FCD said...

That is indeed the only criterion required for a job with Bush.