With Americans understandably concerned about the Ebola virus, and with misinformation running rampant, it certainly would be helpful to have a trusted public health expert who could educate the American people about the actual risk, and apprise them of the steps necessary to minimize it.
This is precisely why the post of Surgeon General was created, and this is precisely the role surgeon generals have played in past public health crises.
Unfortunately, the post has been vacant for more than a year because Republicans have been blocking confirmation of President Obama’s eminently qualified nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy. And they have been blocking him for reasons that have nothing to do with his abilities:
Murthy’s nomination has been held up by Republicans and a few red state Democrats due to this surprisingly controversial stance: He believes that guns can impact your health. Well, to be fair, this conservative coalition is not troubled by his stance, so much as they are fearful of the NRA, which decided to try to scuttle Murthy’s confirmation. The NRA wrote a strongly worded letter, Rand Paul put a hold on the nomination, and Red State Democrats begged Harry Reid to not force them to vote. It’s funny that the strongly worded letters of ordinary citizens don’t seem to have quite the same effect.
So thanks to NRA power and Senate cowardice, we are left with no surgeon general during a time when, we not only have Ebola arriving on our shores, but are also dealing with the mysterious Enterovirus, which is infecting and contributing to the deaths of children in the U.S. (source)
Enough is enough. America needs a surgeon general, and it’s shameful that that post has been vacant for a year.