How to bring a higher profile to the moribund office of Surgeon General

I’m a fan of author Christopher Buckley, whose novels are not only biting political satire, but often prove to be amazingly prescient. For example, the novel (not the movie) Thank You For Smoking, pre-dated the federal and state cigarette settlements with the tobacco companies, but predicted some of the more cynical aspects of what has played out: i.e., anti-smoking campaigns aimed at teenagers can “unintentionally” make smoking seem rebellious — and thus, cool.

Early this year, Buckley’s most recent novel, Supreme Courtship was similarly soothsaying in having as its central character, a Sarah Palenesque woman-of-the-people who is nominated to the Supreme Court after the novel’s President has a series of nominees fail the confirmation process (for rather unique and hilarious reasons).

What does the President hope will be the key to the confirmation of Judge Pepper Cartwright? She’s America’s most popular TV judge. And like Palen, Pepper Cartwright’s personality and down-home wit is central to her appeal.

Buckley’s target for ridicule in the book is a TV-culture that spawns a citizenry that has trouble distinguishing reality from reality-TV. Cartwright is a competent local judge, but her real talent is being good on TV — thus, she’s got what it takes to encourage the American people to rise up in support of her confirmation.


Earlier tonight, I couldn’t help but think of Pepper Cartwright when I read that CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta has been approached to be Surgeon General. According to the New York Times, he is “a pick that will give the moribund office a higher profile.” Was Chris Buckley writing that, I wondered.

At least Dr. Gupta is an actual doctor, and doesn’t just play one on TV. And, no doubt, like Judge Pepper Cartwright, people who know him from TV will believe whatever he tells them.

However, if Dr. Gupta doesn’t accept the job, I recommend Dr. Derek Shepherd or Dr. Gregory House, either of whom will bring an even greater profile to the office.

And if they won’t take it, I recommend nominating someone who slept last night at a Holiday Inn Express.

Update: Upon further reflection, I’ve decided that Doc Searls would also bring a higher profile to the moribund office. “Good health is conversation,” would be his slogan.