The NRA is about to veto Obama’s Surgeon General nominee

President Obama’s nominee for Surgen General is in jeopardy, thanks to a group of spineless Senate Democrats who fear the NRA. Dr. Vivek Murthy might not even get a vote.

Firearms activists usually wade into nomination fights only when the office in question is one that has something to do with guns – judges, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, etc.

Dr. Murthy is eminently qualified to serve as the nation’s public health leader. He trained at Harvard and Yale, and is an instructor at Harvard Medical School. He would be the first Indian-American to hold the position.

Doctor via Shutterstock

Doctor via Shutterstock

The problem, according the National Rifle Association, is that he, like most Americans, supports tougher gun regulations. Most Americans, however, won’t dump a ton of resources into tight Senate races, so Democrats in swing states are running scared of the NRA using this vote against them in the coming elections.

Murthy has indeed endorsed greater gun control. Surprise! He’s an urban Democrat from Boston who worked as an emergency room doctor and saw firsthand the aftermath of gun violence.

He supports the Affordable Care Act, too — something that hardly endears him to Republican senators who grasp at any excuse to stymie the President, and health care reform.  Do you know who else supports the Affordable Care Act?  The AMA.

Dr. Murthy’s position are mainstream American medicine

It would be one thing if a Surgeon General nominee came out stridently against the medical consensus. If a president went off the deep end and nominated someone who opposed vaccinations, for example, that doctor would deserve neither confirmation nor a medical license.

Murthy’s position on guns, however, is not extreme — it’s in line with prevailing medical views. The American Medical Association’s official policy statements include commonsense warnings that only the NRA and other true believers could oppose.

The AMA supports educating the public regarding methods to reduce death and injury due to keeping guns, ammunition and other explosives in the home,” one policy states.

The organization also supports “the right of local jurisdictions to enact firearm regulations that are stricter than those that exist in state statutes and encourage state and local medical societies to evaluate and support local efforts to enact useful controls.”

It favors waiting periods and background checks for all gun purchases and came out against Florida’s gag rule that attempted to prevent doctors from inquiring about gun safety in the home.

The AMA even cites current gun culture and lack of regulation as a “serious threat to the public’s health inasmuch as the weapons are one of the main causes of intentional and unintentional injuries and deaths.”

Some doctors disagree with AMA policy positions. They tend to become senators instead of Surgeon General.

Three physicians currently serve in the U.S. Senate: Oklahoma’s Tom Coburn, Wyoming’s John Barrasso and Kentucky’s Rand Paul. All are Republicans who oppose public safety measures that would regulate firearms.

A fourth doctor has a slim chance of joining them in November. Dr. Monica Wehby seeks the GOP nomination in Oregon to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley, who is a favorite in a blue state. She served in the AMA leadership when it reaffirmed many of its gun policies in 2013, but she resigned to run for Senate. She now tells Republican primary voters that she is all for the right to keep and bear arms.

Senators have a responsibility to ignore the NRA when it takes such a ludicrous stand

The NRA has a right to support or oppose any nominee it wants. Senators have a responsibility to ignore the NRA when it takes such a ludicrous stand. They should judge Murthy on his qualifications as a doctor, not on the paranoid fears of a group that sees government bogeyman ready to seize its members guns around every corner.

Back in November, Democrats reformed the filibuster rule to curb the worst abuses by Republicans. No longer would the minority be able to deny the President his appointments to certain executive and judicial positions, something the GOP has done at a record pace since President Obama took office.

Apparently courage was a temporary condition.

Christian Trejbal is a freelance editorial writer, editor and political consultant based in Portland, Ore. He wrote exclusively for The (Bend) Bulletin and The Roanoke Times before founding Opinion in a Pinch. He serves on the board of directors of the Association of Opinion Journalists Foundation and is open government chairman. Follow him on Twitter @ctrejbal and facebook.

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26 Responses to “The NRA is about to veto Obama’s Surgeon General nominee”

  1. Moderator3 says:

    You’ve had your little fight. Now move on.

  2. Triple Lindy says:

    No, you don’t have the right to call anyone names. You do not have the right to hurl insults. That approach contributes nothing to a discussion except ill will. You will convince very few that your position is correct if all you offer is insults. Why don’t you try using facts and logic? Explain why Doctors for America, which has lobbied heavily for ObamaCarefor is not “ass-kissing”. I look forward to your response.

  3. ckg1 says:

    No, I’m not denying it.

    If he wants to make charges(like calling it a reward for ass-kissing when he presents no proof of the charge), I have EVERY right to call him on it.

    If you don’t like that, Lindy, I can’t help you.

  4. BillFromDover says:

    Just another example of big money’s strangle-hold on politicians.

    And now with the Robert court’s ruling to allow unlimited money in elections?


  5. Triple Lindy says:

    Are you denying that you called him names and hurled insults?

  6. ckg1 says:

    Go look at Ultracon’s post. Then say what you said again. With a straight face.

    I do NOT suffer fools gladly.

  7. Triple Lindy says:

    I see what you are doing. You have no logical argument, so call names and hurl insults.

  8. BillFromDover says:

    Since when unfettered intelligence become a detriment to holding public office?

    Oh, never mind. Silly me!

  9. 4th Turning says:

    I believe the term you’re looking for is “cash cow” and come to think of it
    after my recent experience with that dubious profession(?), I’d rather take
    my chances now with a vet any day.

  10. jared says:

    And what exactly is so wrong with wanting the people who design policy
    to have practiced significantly in the field in which they are going to
    have massive and dramatic effects? “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”
    is not a very objective way to live life.

  11. Lawerence Collins says:

    I’m just guessing, but are these “Democrats” located in Rethuglican territory?!
    Just like the ones that caved and supported the cuts to food stamps. They should just become Koch whores!

  12. nicho says:

    And why would we expect anything different in a corporate dictatorship?

  13. nicho says:

    The Surgeon General deals with policy. He/she doesn’t see patients. But they don’t tell you that at the NRA weekly circle jerk, I guess.

  14. Indigo says:

    I agree. As far as I can tell, medical ethics today considers the patient an income source to be charged as much as the market will tolerate. It is apparently unethical to do otherwise. To somehow justify increasing fees and adding expensive treatments is apparently a highly ethical, perhaps virtuous act.

  15. Naja pallida says:

    When it’s not political, it’s all about profit. Medicine in this country has nothing to do with healing any longer, and that is working exactly as intended.

  16. ckg1 says:

    You, sir, are a grade A asshole.

    Go back to the Breitbrats and the rest of your right wing boards where they’ll kiss your ass so much you won’t be able to sit for days. Oh, wait, I forgot…you LIKE having your ass kissed.

  17. Monophylos Fortikos says:

    The gun nuts have a particularly violent allergy to the merest suggestion that firearms are, among other things, a matter of interest to the public health. Remember how the NRA was in the news some years ago for trying to squelch CDC research into gun injuries? (

  18. You know what they call a guy who’s only been an MD for a few years?


  19. SkippyFlipjack says:

    I love that the Senate may deny a post to a person because he disagrees with some of them on an issue over which only they have power and over which his position has no power.

  20. 2karmanot says:


  21. irritatorofthepowerful says:

    This problem is similar to the one the Republicans faced. That is, if the Democratic Senators show courage and vote for the nominee, then they may not get re-elected in November. Mainstream Republicans went along with Tea Partiers last October to make unreasonable demands on the President, effectively shutting down the government. Most of these Republicans knew this was a stupid tactic but agreed so as not to look weak with the electorate. Courageous stands can be both applauded and punished at the same time.

  22. Ultracon says:

    Who says he is qualified? He has never run anything, he has only been a doctor for a few years, and not a practicing one at that……. This is merely, and obviously a political reward for ass-kissing.

  23. 4th Turning says:

    I’m fairly certain our first ever and very effective female senator will vote to confirm.
    I’m fairly certain she is going to lose to another t.p. doofuss in the midterms this fall.
    Can’t comprehend my divided, complacent party but neither am I willing to let that
    goofy “independent” bunch off the hook either.

  24. I hate it when Democrats are spineless. We need to be more like LBJ.

  25. Indigo says:

    But medicine is political, haven’t you been to a doctor’s office lately?

  26. S1AMER says:

    Who’s really to blame here? The NRA or cowardly politicians (many Democrats in addition to most Republicans)?

    Wayne LaPierre is very good at his job. Much better, in fact, than are politicians who would rather see constituents die from gun violence and negligence than get a bad NRA score.

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