Guest Column: Should Bush’s surgeon general pick make the cut?

In July, the U.S. Senate held hearings on Dr. James Holsinger, President George W. Bush’s surgeon general nominee. Holsinger has been unfairly and viciously attacked by the left for both his religious views—he’s a Christian, heaven forbid—and for daring, in a 1991 paper he penned, to address the devastating medical consequences of the homosexual lifestyle. Those consequences are well documented—among other sources—by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and are irrefutable.

During his testimony, Dr. Holsinger stated he would resign if ever asked to place politics over science. Unfortunately, while addressing questions relative to hot-button issues such as homosexuality and destructive embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) this time around, Dr. Holsinger appeared to do just that. He appeared to place political correctness over scientific substance.

When asked if he still believed that homosexual behaviors are “unhealthy” and “unnatural,” as he demonstrated in his 1991 paper, he played dodge ball and offered a series of non-answers. He clearly tried to distance himself from the paper by saying: “First of all, the paper does not represent where I am today. It does not represent who I am today.”

What does that mean? Does it mean that Dr. Holsinger now believes that homosexual behaviors are “natural” and “healthy”? That’s certainly how the mainstream media is playing his response. It’s being widely reported that he has “disavowed” his prior position on homosexuality.

But there are additional questions about Dr. Holsinger’s medical opinions. For instance, what is his position on ESCR and cloning? Statements he made in 2002 in support of relaxing restrictions on both ESCR and cloning concern many conservatives who oppose the destruction of innocent human life.

That said, the White House has offered assurances that Dr. Holsinger is “pro-life indeed, and shares the president’s pro-life/culture-of-life view” on all matters, including ESCR and cloning. As of yet, however, we have no evidence of Dr. Holsinger’s purported pro-life ESCR/cloning conversion.

Dr. Holsinger could have provided that evidence himself during his hearing. He chose not to. When asked whether restrictions on federal funding for ESCR should be lifted and whether he is generally opposed to ESCR, Holsinger indicated he supports the president’s policy not to expand federal funding. He indicated he was not familiar enough with ESCR to feel comfortable responding to questions.

Again, we’re left not knowing where Dr. Holsinger stands on these important hot-button issues. Rather than taking advantage of the moment to educate the public—which is exactly what a surgeon general is supposed to do—Dr. Holsinger seemed to succumb to intimidation tactics by extremist left-wing special interest groups, especially the powerful homosexual lobby. He capitulated to their demand that he remain politically correct rather than medically correct. That’s too bad. Lives are at stake here. Getting medical facts out can save lives.

And finding those facts isn’t hard to do. Although medical facts aren’t very popular with the left (facts rarely are), those facts are readily available.

Call me a pie-in-the-sky dreamer, but when asked by Senator Ted “flip-and-fly” Kennedy (D-Mass.) whether he still believes that homosexuality is “unnatural” and “unhealthy,” Dr. Holsinger could have said: “It doesn’t matter what I believe. Let’s see what the medical facts tell us. For instance, the CDC has revealed in its most recent 2005 report that male homosexuals account for at least 71 percent of all adult and adolescent males living with deadly HIV/AIDS. These numbers are up 11 percent from 2001 despite—if not due to—‘comprehensive’ condom-based “safe-sex” education.

“Furthermore,” says Holsinger in my pie-in-the-sky scenario, “astronomical HIV/AIDS statistics represent only one small aspect of the homosexual lifestyle—especially among males. CDC statistics also indicate that homosexuals are, by far, most susceptible to nearly all forms of sexually-transmitted disease, as well as other lifestyle-related medical injuries. So yes, Senator Kennedy, homosexual behaviors are demonstrably unnatural and unhealthy.”

Dr. Holsinger could have shared this information with the Senate committee. He didn’t. Instead, he dodged questions about homosexuality altogether. I was there. I heard it. And I was left unimpressed.

To his credit, Dr. Holsinger did step up—to a degree—on another hot-button issue. When asked about the propriety and effectiveness of teaching abstinence in the context of sex education, Dr. Holsinger made it clear that teaching abstinence is an effective way to reduce sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy.

But again, on the issues of homosexual behavior and ESCR, the good doctor regrettably gave a poor performance. He failed to provide direct answers to direct questions, and for that reason, we’re left not knowing where he stands or how he’ll perform as surgeon general.

I think the American people deserve better than that. There’s still time for Dr. Holsinger to clear things up. It wouldn’t be that difficult. He could still publicly clarify where he stands on the aforementioned issues. I hope he will.

Matt Barber is one of the like-minded men with Concerned Women for America. He is an attorney with an emphasis in constitutional law, and serves as CWA’s Policy Director for Cultural Issues.

from the Aug 1-7, 2007, issue

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