I didn't think it was possible to be surprised by the bad behavior that rolls off this White house like stink rolls off a hog farm, but the former Surgeon General's testimony to Congress managed to do just that. So what was it? What detail in Dr. Richard Carmona's testimony surprised even this cynic? Let's take a look.
Was it the fact that the administration frequently censored him and tried to force his public statements to fit politics?
No, that didn't surprise me. I've written short films for two government agencies in the past five years and every script was pored over for Bushian political correctness by a political officer. All the old hands I worked with, Democrat and Republican alike, said they'd never seen anything like it. So, holding the Surgeon General to this administration's standards of what is acceptable speech didn't surprise me. Horrified me, yes, but that's nothing unusual.
Was it that the Bush White House banned Dr Carmona from speaking or issuing reports on stem cells, emergency contraception, prisons, mental health and international health issues? Nah, that's expected from a White House that denies any science that doesn't fit into George Bush's preconceived notion of how things should be.
See, the president doesn't investigate facts, because facts are notoriously liberal. No, he forms a belief based on his gut and then sticks with that, facts be damned. So this is Old News.
Was it the watering down of a key report on the dangers of second-hand smoke? Ha! That's so not surprising that I have to stifle a yawn.
What else you got, Doc?
Stem cell research? Dr. Carmona said that "Much of the discussion was being driven by theology, ideology, [and] preconceived beliefs that were scientifically incorrect... I was told the decision had already been made. 'To stand down. Don't talk about it.' That information was removed from my speeches." See, there's that George Bush gut instinct at work again. So no surprise here.
Dr. Carmona was told that global warming was a "liberal cause" and that the Special Olympics were politically suspect because they're supported by the Kennedy family.
"I was specifically told by a senior person, 'Why would you want to help those people?'"
Seeing everything, even the Special Olympics, as a Zero Sum political game? No, even that didn't surprise me. Protecting the US tobacco industry? Nope. Sex Ed?
"There was already a policy in place that did not want to hear the science but wanted to preach abstinence only, but I felt that was scientifically incorrect," Carmona said.
This bunch getting all freaky about people getting freaky should surprise no one.
So, what was it that completely fascinated me by its sheer weirdness? What was the one detail in the doctor's testimony that revealed the true nature of our Chief Executive?
Dr. Carmona was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of every speech he made.
Did I read that right? So if the Surgeon General's speech is ten pages long, and he's giving a talk on say, genital warts, he has to mention Bush by name 30 fucking times?
What sort of demented person thinks of these things? And what kind of narcissistic, insecure person demands that kind of continuous stroking from his subordinates?
That, by far, is the weirdest thing I've heard in the past six years of dysfunctional weirdness. That takes the trophy.
And how did the White House respond to Dr. Carmona's testimony? They said that this doctor, a decorated Special Forces medical officer who served in combat in Vietnam, was not credible and had his own agenda.
In other words, they attacked his character.
And that, sadly, is the least surprising thing about this whole sad affair.
*Thanks to The Onion for another spot-on analysis of Bush Science.