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Another Reason to Like Dr. Sanjay

4:45 PM, Jan 9, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Rep. John Conyers, one of Congress' biggest universal health care advocates, is distributing a "Dear Colleagues" letter urging against Sanjay Gupta's appointment to Surgeon General:

Conyers planned to call Obama directly Thursday afternoon to voice his concern and has raised the issue with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

In his letter, Conyers wrote, "It is not in the best interests of the nation to have someone like this who lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial healthcare assistance to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in America."

Conyers also cited a Jan. 6 blog item by Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Unlike Conyers, however, Krugman does not have a problem with Gupta's qualifications.

Krugman pointed out that Gupta engaged in a televised argument with Moore in 2007 over his movie, "SiCKO."

Conyers is friends with Moore, a Michigan native who is an ardent backer of the legislator's universal healthcare bill. Moore's film made the case for the U.S. to adopt a "single-payer" healthcare system like Canada's.

But lest I be unfair and unbalanced when it comes to Gupta's record, let me note an article sent to me by an attentive Standard reader after he read my first post praising the prospective Surgeon General. I supposed in that post that there were probably Gupta positions with which I disagreed, and indeed, our reader pointed me to one:

I offer as evidence a recent story on CNN concerning a new prenatal test that can detect the presence of Down Syndrome. CNN's website reported the primary benefit of this test is that it gives "mothers-to-be more peace of mind and more time to end a pregnancy," a position shared by on-air medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta (a.k.a. Dr. Snuff). This emphasis on the extermination option outraged many Down parents, including my friend and associate, Ian Danielsen.

I'm disappointed to hear Gupta counts himself among the folks who were a little too surprised Sarah Palin actually gave birth to her fifth child, Trigg, but I still think his decent reporting and occasional departures from liberal orthodoxy on CNN speak well of him. All the right people are annoyed by him.

He also performed emergency surgery five times while embedded with a Navy unit in 2003 called the "Devil Docs," offering his skills as a neurosurgeon to the victims of the battlefield. Fellow reporters attacked Gupta's journalistic ethics because they were totally jealous.