It looks like I'm beginning to share Frank Lockwood's undying obsession with the Bush administration's nominee for Surgeon General, having posted twice on the subject in the last two days. This, then, is the last post on the subject, I promise.
In my last two posts I expressed some concern for Dr. Holsinger's views on homosexuality, and also for the way that he has thus far been treated. I also expressed my own conflict over his nomination. What I didn't do was arrive at any conclusions or give any suggestions. In this last post I'll do my best to do that.
Having now rather thoroughly (but by no means exhaustively) explored what the issues are with Dr. Holsinger's nomination to be U.S. Surgeon General, what do I think? What should happen next? Of course, no one with any power whatsoever will ever ask me questions like that, but I'll answer them here anyway.
I think that, as always happens unless a nomination is withdrawn, Dr. Holsinger should appear before the Senate for confirmation hearings. And, I think the Senate should do its job. That is, the Senate - and especially the Democrat leadership in the Senate - should address concerns and ask questions, without deciding in advance whether Dr. Holsinger should be confirmed. That does not mean that I think Dr. Holsinger should be confirmed. I have serious doubts about that. But I think that he should go through the confirmation process as he would through a trial (a trial by ordeal, perhaps?), without being prejudged.
I think he should be asked tough questions (questions like the ones I'll offer in a moment), and that he'd damn well better have some good answers. And, I think that in the (unlikely?) event that he answers those questions thoroughly and satisfactorily, I think that he should be confirmed.
What questions would I ask him? Questions like these:
Dr. Holsinger, in 1991 you wrote a paper titled the Pathophysiology of Male Homosexuality. Do you stand by what you wrote in that paper concerning homosexuality, or have your views changed? If your views have changed, then how have they changed and why have they changed? (And, if not, thank you and goodbye!)
Dr. Holsinger, you helped found a church that "ministers" to those who no longer wish to be gay. What is your medical opinion of attempts to change someone's sexual orientation? Have you ever been directly involved in any attempt to alter someone's sexual orientation? If so, what exactly was your involvement, and are you still involved in such attempts? If you have been involved in such attempts in the past and are no longer involved, why are you no longer involved in such attempts? What changed?
Dr. Holsinger, do you think that homosexuality is a disease? Can it be treated? What is the basis for your opinion?
From what little I know personally of James Holsinger - and especially from what I know of him by his reputation in the United Methodist church and in the state of Kentucky - I highly doubt that he would lie to Congress. Like most who seek to navigate the treacherous waters of the confirmation process, he may evade some questions (I certainly would). It is that evasion, more than outright dishonesty, that I fear. If he answers a question, and answers it completely, then I'd trust his answer. And, if he can honestly answer questions like the ones above in a way that removes justified concern about his position on homosexuality, then I see no reason why he shouldn't be confirmed.
But I strongly doubt that he could answer those questions the way that I think he ought to. And if not, what then? Then he should not be confirmed. If he can't honestly say that homosexuality is not a disease, and if he cannot honestly distance himself from attempts to alter persons' sexual orientation, then he has no business being Surgeon General. But he is at least entitled to - assuming his nomination is not withdrawn - a fair hearing in the confirmation process, before he is tossed aside.
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