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Obama Selects Alabama Doctor as Surgeon General



Regina Benjamin poses for a portrait in the waiting room at her temporary clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala., in 2008. (AP Photo/The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Bill Starling)

Updated 12:34 p.m.
By Michael D. Shear
President Obama has chosen Regina Benjamin, a family physician from Alabama, to be the next Surgeon General, filling a key public health post ahead of an expected surge in the H1N1 flu next fall.

Benjamin gained fame through her public efforts to rebuild her rural health clinic after Hurricane Katrina devastated it. She founded the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in 1990 and rebuilt it after the hurricane.

Benjamin has also served as the first black woman to head the State of Alabama Medical Association and was associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama's College of Medicine.

Obama announced her his intent to nominate her at a Rose Garden event this morning in which he also spoke of the challenges and need for health care reform. "I understand people are a little nervous and a little scared about making change. You know, the muscles in this town to bring about big changes are a little atrophied, but we're whipping folks back into shape. We are going to get this done," the president said.

"And if there's anyone who understands the urgency of meeting this challenge in a personal and powerful way, it is the woman who will become our nation's next surgeon general, Dr. Regina Benjamin."

The president's first choice to be surgeon general, CNN's Sanjay Gupta, pulled out of the running several months ago, saying he wanted to be able to spend more time with his family.

Gupta had initially said he was attracted to the position because of the ability to use his high-profile reputation to increase awareness of public health and the push health care reform through the Congress.

Since then, the administration has been without a top public health official, even as the swine flu has demanded attention.

Posted at 10:46 AM ET on Jul 13, 2009  | Category:  Cast of Characters
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Why is Obama only appointing light skin black people? Have you noticed? ... Take a look: http://africauncensored.com/barack-hypocrisy.html

Posted by: malamba | July 19, 2009 9:43 PM

HAY WAGNER4

True That.

Posted by: Deborgio | July 18, 2009 6:00 PM

I remain shocked at this selection. Someone of this body mass is no doubt consuming very large amounts to maintain this level of fat on their frame. This is the phenotype of the most unhealthy looking American one who will no doubt cost the medical community large sums of money in the future as she too likely may have diabetes, no doubt increased levels for breast as well as other cancers, hypertension, etc., etc., increasing her chances of getting these diseases in complete opposition to all the medical research is no more then a joke. It is clear why she was selected and it has nothing to do with health. Someone who is failing- not succeeding at the very basic levels of control and self restraint regarding food and their health. Something that you can only succeed with on your own and a choice you make on your own. Not with help from others. Is this what we want America's Doctor to look like. We are rewarding the sub-standards not the very best in their field. That is the heart of the problem here for me. Along with a smoking president how much lower can we place our health standards and the real quality of our role models.

Posted by: wagner4 | July 17, 2009 1:03 PM

OK, I don't usually get in the ridiculous frays that come out on these blogs and comment pages, but this is too much.

What a great country the United States is! Where else on this planet can idiots and geniuses; bigots and liberals, racists and humanitarians, losers and winners, luminarys and blind people get to criticize and insult an accomplished, self-sacrificing public servant????

Wake up people!! Here is a woman who has contributed to humanity on many levels...to the extent that she has neglected her own health. You are right, she should be thinner. Maybe when she becomes the surgeon general, she will take the time to get her "weight" in line with your standards. What would you say if she was anorexic??? Oh, that would be okay, because you can never be too thin,right?

If she does 1/2 the job for the American people that she has done for the "forgotten people" who were left behind in the wake of Katrina, this whole country will be indebted to her. But then some of us will find fault with that.

...and to the self-righteous, "I am perfect" people who compare their body mass to the nominee's...try comparing your intellect and accomplishments to hers. Who comes up short with that comparison?

Can we stick to evaluating her professional capability to do the job??

She can LOSE weight. Can YOU be the surgeon general???

Posted by: elliegee | July 15, 2009 1:35 AM

So sad so many people are as they were in 1939 about Hitler----BLIND!!Good luck with that worshiping a man thing!!
-------------------------------------------

Hey..... that's quite enough, you will give Hitler a bad name.

Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | July 14, 2009 4:47 PM

This is so sad-but so necessary.The hole Obama is digging for himself will be impossible to come out of. His Jeremiah Wright shows everytime he appoints someone or in his dealing with the international community!!So sad so many people are as they were in 1939 about Hitler----BLIND!!Good luck with that worshiping a man thing!!

Posted by: slhfund | July 14, 2009 4:41 PM

I voted for Barack. I think he's doing a very good job as president in light of the trainwreck that was thrust upon him by the Bush administration. However, this nomination for surgeon general is a big mistake. Look at Barack and Michelle and then look at her. They are the picture of fitness and healthful behavior. She is obese which is a destroyer of health.

I am not for the twiggy or the Barbie look. I am not superthin but I am within my BMI limits. Sometimes I have to resort to diet aids to get there, but I do what I have to do to stay healthy. Choosing someone who does not exemplify the health needs of society is a very poor choice.

She might be a fine lady. But she can't even follow the basic needs of a physician: Physician-heal thyself.

Posted by: Raccoonwoods | July 14, 2009 3:36 PM

I think this is an admirable choice, and I predict her speech was written to set up her agenda precisely because she isn't hollywood-thin. I predict that if appointed she will very publicly engage in a healthier lifestyle, eat veggies from the White house garden with Michelle, talk it out with Oprah, start a walking blog and tweet about her choices. It will be her way of saying "I will do this with you America" and it will be very successful (in addition to everything else on her plate - pun intended!). Best of luck to her and the entire Administration. The real question, is she going to get the President to stop smoking?

Posted by: fiona4 | July 14, 2009 11:09 AM

There is a great misunderstanding about what the so-called obesity really is.
After middle age people gets obese. But the most likely is that this obesity be swelling, that is, infection/inflammation of liver and pancreas, that is asymptomatic chronic hepatitis and diabetes. However, the health industry wants this situation to be diagnosed as obesity. But the healing of this so-called obesity is achieved by implementing a vaccine against a virus, HSV.
I hope that the new Surgeon General be aware of that.

Posted by: fstavares | July 14, 2009 9:14 AM

Obesity, particularly Black obesity, is a huge health problem in the United States. Obama's choice of a Surgeon General who is obese and Black sends the wrong message to the one in eight in the population who are Black. With Black female obesity exceeding 40 percent Obama's choice of a fat Black woman is a very poor public health decision.

Obesity is the root cause of so many chronic physical conditions. This will not help correct the problem. It will exacerbate the public health problem.

Rather than select a fat Black woman Obama should have chose a Black woman with a body mass index of 25 or less.


The debate about universal health coverage has failed to recognise that the obese cost the rest of us way too much money to treat their obesity. Obese people should have to pay an obesity tax or surcharge in medical insurance. Rather than have the achievers of society pay for others conditions caused by obesity with a huge tax increases based upon income, we should heavily tax the obese as we do those who smoke.

This looks like another step in Obama's Marxist agenda that redistributes wealth and subsidises poor personal behaviour. The image of a fat Black woman serving as Surgeon General sends a message that it is acceptable to be fat as a lifestyle choice. That is the wrong message to send to an ethnic group whose culture supports continued public assistance generating intergenerational poverty, illegitimate or out of wedlock births, high crime rates and other huge social costs not present in other ethnic groups such as Orientals, East Indians and Europeans.

Posted by: KEVIN25 | July 14, 2009 7:42 AM

One can only hope she will be as entertaining as the last black female Surgeon General.

Posted by: marfen | July 14, 2009 12:06 AM

Dr. Benjamin is a well respected physician in the state of Alabama and over the last 10-15 years have been recognized locally and nationally about her positive medical work. Regardless she is obese,is a woman and is african-american she knows very well community
and rural medicine. She has a good knowledge of what the country needs,regardless of her sex,weight and skin color. It is time those commentaries should not take place in USA.

Posted by: francof1944piura | July 13, 2009 11:38 PM

Well now, we have folks worried about the Surgeon General appointee having a weight problem. Perhaps we should just ask Sarah Palin to take the job. After all, she can probably see the local hospital from her house.

Posted by: oldwoman | July 13, 2009 10:19 PM

OK, it's great to see so many BMI-under-25, non-smoking, 1-drink-a-day, non-drug-using, non-diabetic, non-hyperlidemic, non-hypertensive, low-salt-eating, 30-minute-a-day-exercising, non-type-A, under-55-driving, free-clinic-volunteering perfectionists critiquing a nominee for her physical appearance. Perhaps we could consider the concept of merit over appearance? Apparently the American people overcame one bias in the vote for President, but now we see a (hopefully very limited) bias against heavy physicians. I assume you all felt C. Everett Koop had an acceptable BMI to be Surgeon General?

Personally, I think nominating a primary care physician sends just the right message in the fight for health care reform. I'm inclined to listen with an open mind before deciding.

Posted by: ROBUSN | July 13, 2009 10:19 PM

Sorry for being late getting to the news today. When I saw the headline I have to say that I wondered if she was yet another black choice for Obama. Well, yeah! Should there have been any doubt? With this administration that's what we are going to get and keep getting until we realize that there really are talented and intelligent blacks in this country. I just don't understand why he (BHO) couldn't find blacks to fill the positions at Treasury and economic advisors.

Posted by: jon5 | July 13, 2009 10:09 PM

Obama selected Dr Benjamin because he is confident that she can lose weight and show how superficial some pediatricians are.

Posted by: Gator-ron | July 13, 2009 9:58 PM

Thank God for a U.S. President who is making tough decisions AND choosing the right path. Dr. Benjamin is a fine physician, and as a graduate of the University of South Alabama, I'll show some pride and assert that it's about time that we have some leadership that's rooted in experience and demonstrated successful service, instead of the same old moldy alienating Aristocracy that has all but undermined our Democracy thus far.

Posted by: jsattva | July 13, 2009 9:32 PM

She has a friendly and kind look to her so maybe she can convince people to take better care of themselves along with herself. I would hope she would make childhood obesity a priority since it leads to so many other health problems. Hopefully she will lead by example. I think she's a good choice if she does just that. Sotomayor on the other hand must be shown the door.

Posted by: nobama2012 | July 13, 2009 8:18 PM

I'm a pediatrician. One of the greatest health threats in our population is obesity. Now we have an obese Surgeon General as a role model. How is she to impact the nation's health if she can't even take care of herself?

Posted by: ctg312 | July 13, 2009 6:59 PM

Not to be unkind ... but if Regina Benjamin was a patient of Regina Benjamin, how successful a physician would you judge her to be?

If SHE can't get her BMI under 25, what kind of example is she going to be providing to America?

Posted by: oracle2world | July 13, 2009 6:27 PM

Limbaugh already on her case. Sick. there is a related post at http://iamsoannoyed.com/?page_id=588

Posted by: carlyt | July 13, 2009 5:58 PM

We need to establish a society where self-interest promotes the interest of the population. Therefore we need to motivate people with profit, and encourage success. This person seems to have too many problems to contribute to such a society.

Posted by: Deborgio | July 13, 2009 5:55 PM

Yes, Regina Benjamin is going to advise America on obesity.

She has to have a BMI over 25.

Everyone okay with this?

I mean, if she can't drop weight with the knowledge and pharmaceuticals at her fingertips ... somehow I don't see how more talk on Oprah in her spiffy uniform is going to really cut to the heart of the problem. (You have to phrase this stuff in a way medical professionals understand.)

Posted by: oracle2world | July 13, 2009 5:22 PM

charlietuna666 wrote:

***************************************
I am a German-American and my ethnic group has about 45% of the American Population.
***************************************

Um, what Census Bureau information are you reading?

White Americans of German descent comprise about 17% of US citizens. While it is, perhaps, the largest slice as far as ancestry goes, it's not near 45%.

(see
http://factfinder.census.gov/servlet/ADPTable?_bm=y&-geo_id=01000US&-parsed=true&-ds_name=ACS_2007_1YR_G00_&-_lang=en&-_caller=geoselect&-format= )

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | July 13, 2009 5:13 PM

"free market medicine" is when doctors get paid for how many surgeries they perform, not for when they actually make patients healthier. Which would you rather have? A doctor who wanted to cure you or a doctor who wants to make as much money off you as possible?

Posted by: steveh46 | July 13, 2009 4:51 PM

For you socialists (aka Democrats) out there, I worked for Thomson CGR (now part of GE Medical) who sells hi tech medical imaging systems (MRI, CT, mamography, etc.). They were big in Europe but couldn't crack the US market even though they had much better equipment. The reason = they understood socialized medicine and not what we have in a free country. Their service and support people worked 7 hrs a day and never on a weekend - just like their hospitals and doctors. Doctors over there didn't get upset when equipment was broken because they got paid when their MRI was not functioning. In the US our doctors DON"T get paid when the equipment is down so our company had to understand the US need for 24/7/365 service.

Now, tell me you want doctors that don't go to school for a paycheck - a good one. Everyone goes to school for a paycheck. The question is do you want your doctor to be PAID for not seeing you or do you want him to have an incentive to see you. There are many ways to improve on our system but Obamacare is NOT one of them. Doctors without paychecks means either no doctors or very poor quality ones. You choose. I'm betting that Ms. Benjamin wouldn't get the nod if she believed in free market medicine.

Posted by: EBurkeDisciple | July 13, 2009 4:34 PM

I am shocked by some of the postings that I see. Is her weight a problem because she is a woman? I remember some past male surgeon generals being really obese while I don't observe from her picture that Dr. Benjamin is "obese." What is up with you guys, does she have to be a barbie doll to be qualified to serve?

Posted by: Montez1 | July 13, 2009 4:09 PM

I think it's wonderful that the president is finally choosing a nominee withe the public interest in mine first- instead of development their own resumes just because somebody asks them to join the team.

Her passion for medicine and for helping people in place where most Americans would only care to expoit for the natural resources speaks vol. about her.

Posted by: arandoph2017 | July 13, 2009 4:06 PM

It really doesn't matter.

The Obama experiment, going to be over in 3-1/2 years anyway.

Posted by: dashriprock | July 13, 2009 3:47 PM

For those of use old enough to remember Segregation, I find many of the right-wing comments quite satisfying. I forward them to my 28-year-old son so he was understand why I tell him, and he understands, that "there isn't a dimes worth of difference between segregationist Southern Democrats and Conservative Republicans." ... For you segregationists, sorry, Christian Evangelicans/Conservatives I was quoting a hero of your George Wallace. Oh, I'm from North Carolina so you know I know about Jesse Helms and his ilk.

Posted by: ke73 | July 13, 2009 3:44 PM

For all you who are boo-who-hooing about the POTUS pick for this or that, you need to take a look at society as a whole. I belive that he is attempting to form a cabinet reflective of America TODAY not 50 years ago. America is changing, you can go along or...move to another country. Suffice to say white males who are not acceptable to change and stuck in the past will be left behind. The whoa its me attitude is pathetic..think about what minorities (to include women) have been subjected to for years. You need to get over yourselves.

Posted by: crazyeagle | July 13, 2009 3:41 PM

Only a fool would criticize the nominee because she does not believe doctors should make a profit. She is in charge of the professional aspects of medicine.

Bulldog your so pathetic a gator would wipe you up every time.

Posted by: Gator-ron | July 13, 2009 3:30 PM

our nation is the only industrialized nation in the world where kids go to medical school to get paid, and not for the love of helping people. Since when did our country become "Gordon Gecko" when it comes to doctors helping people.


Dear stupid,
I will stop getting paid for my work the same day you stop getting a paycheck.

Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | July 13, 2009 3:25 PM

Well, Tiller was probably his first choice.

Posted by: RoseKelly | July 13, 2009 3:09 PM

steveh46

You could not have said it any better! Some of these radical republicans only see things through close-minded political biased lens.

These people are:

1. Easy to confuse
2. Easy to brainwash through propaganda
3. Allergic to books and proper research
4. Comparable to garbage disposal systems that regurgitate junk

Read some Biology, read some genetics, read SOMETHING....Race is only man-made. Genetics proves this. Come up with a legitimate argument for why someone is or is not qualified for a position.

Posted by: joecrayola | July 13, 2009 2:31 PM

The vicious, racist, non-sequitor insulting comments here about the President and Dr. Benjamin are discouraging. Here's Dr. Benjamin's bio:

Dr. Benjamin is former associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama's College of Medicine in Mobile, where she administers the Alabama AHEC program and previously directed its Telemedicine Program. She serves as the current president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama. In 1995 she was elected to the American Medical Association's board of trustees, making her the first physician under age 40 and the first African-American woman to be elected. She has also served as president of the American Medical Association's Education and Research Foundation.

Dr. Benjamin is a 1998 Mandela Award Winner, a former Kellogg National Fellow, has been featured as ABC Television's Person of the Week, and in 1996 was chosen by CBS This Morning as Woman of the Year.

Since then she's won a MacArthur "Genius" Grant. She also served on COGME.

Geez, grow up those of you who criticize her on the basis of her appearance or race!

Posted by: steveh46 | July 13, 2009 2:15 PM

You have got to be kidding me! This selection is outrageous, as there are so many more qualified medical professionals that can do this job. If you check this doctor's history, she does not believe that doctors should earn a profit. Just because she accomplished these things after Katrina does not make her qualified. There were other doctors who had done as much, if not more, but because of their ethnicity do not get all the hoopla! The Community Organizer has made another hair brain selection. I wonder who the Surgeon General Czar will be; maybe Dr. Seuss?
------------------------------------------

Look idiot,

our nation is the only industrialized nation in the world where kids go to medical school to get paid, and not for the love of helping people. Since when did our country become "Gordon Gecko" when it comes to doctors helping people. Which is precisely why the insurance industry and big pharma has the grip on this nation like it does, and why we won't ever have universal health coverage because doctor's in th country have gone away from taking their sworn oaths to protect and help people in need and are more worried about getting their pay for service stipends. I've read this woman's story and it seems on the surface she is uber qualified, probably more than that loudmouth Sanjay Gupta, and the fact that she would give of her time and service to help others during Hurricane Katrina when our Government wouldn't speaks volumes.

Posted by: rmattocks | July 13, 2009 2:14 PM

Well, what did we expect? Social re-engineering - just what the doctor ordered. Fortunately (really, it's unfortunate) this position is primarily symbolic anyway. Remember Joyceline Elders? Please - make it stop!

Posted by: sero1 | July 13, 2009 2:10 PM

Re the American Fatties issue: If you really want to help elevate the general level of health of your fellow citizens, instead of making light of "fatties in Walmart carts" (many of whom may have knee and ankle problems which they can't afford to get fixed) try finding out why such a huge % of americans are overweight and how it ties in with agribusiness lobbyists getting farm subsidies for the production of "high fructose corn syrup" and other slow poisons in the American food chain. Most of the ills in US society can be traced back to inadequate regulation of and lobbying by industries that are "too big to fail".

Posted by: ufwp | July 13, 2009 2:10 PM

Some of you guys are looking to much into Barack Obama's choices and decisions. Sure he makes a lot of decisions, but he has an entire cabinet to help him discern with what America needs for the future, and how it can break from the horrible habits that put us in this position in the past. Stop projecting yourselves Republicans! own up to your own parties mistakes and allow for some bipartisan work. Just because the bush Administration exploited our trust, does not mean the Obama Administration will. Stop Projecting Republicans.

Posted by: joecrayola | July 13, 2009 2:08 PM

You have got to be kidding me! This selection is outrageous, as there are so many more qualified medical professionals that can do this job. If you check this doctor's history, she does not believe that doctors should earn a profit. Just because she accomplished these things after Katrina does not make her qualified. There were other doctors who had done as much, if not more, but because of their ethnicity do not get all the hoopla! The Community Organizer has made another hair brain selection. I wonder who the Surgeon General Czar will be; maybe Dr. Seuss?

Posted by: bulldog8 | July 13, 2009 2:06 PM


Does Obama’s pick for open positions so far tell you anything?
Four years is a long time and much may be put in place for a chance to change. The developments are scary.
W gave us eight years and four more from Obama may be too much!!

Posted by: 68b2b | July 13, 2009 2:02 PM

:-D

Keep it Obasama!

At the rate you are playing that Half Race Card of yours;

it'll be another 200 Years before another Black-or, even Half Black, Person gets to be President Racist!

Posted by: SAINT---The | July 13, 2009 2:01 PM

Great choice!!!! Why is being a barbie doll is an American Symbol of beauty anyway?This is far away from being a normal human being, down to earth and spiritual and with a great taste for food.
A Barbie doll is so skinny(extremly "flaca y fea, malnutrida") looks like skeleton.She is not beautiful at all? In conclusion, is all about the eyes that you were prepare to see with! (psychology)

Posted by: kukuliwritter | July 13, 2009 1:59 PM

And you just thought that Bob's Big Boy did not have an adopted sister! Man Bob's could not buy this kind of publicity.

Posted by: KBlit | July 13, 2009 1:59 PM

The (largely semi-literate) boneheads who keep complaining about Obama's (and his appointees') alleged lack of experience deserve a rebuttal:

Where were these voices when Bush was elected with no experience running anything except a bunch of businesses into the ground and whose military experience consisted of avoiding his national guard duties and dodging DUI charges?

If you want to get a handle on Obama's experience, read his two books. He has accomplished a lot of good for a lot of people and has thought deeply about the issues that everyone and especially a president should. Those two books are extremely well written and give a real insight into how Obama came to be what he is today. There is none of the usual self-aggrandizement that one expects in a politician's autobiography, just an honest account of the key events in his life and his thoughts and feeling and conclusions regarding those events. He is even quite open about his early missteps into the worlds of despair and drug abuse that have trapped so many of his contemporaries.

Think about how well all the "experienced" folks in the previous administration served the US by ignoring facts that didn't fit their ideological agenda thereby running the entire world economy into the ground.

Posted by: ufwp | July 13, 2009 1:58 PM

It is a serious problem that this surgeon general is overweight. I am very disappointed in this, as we need someone with a very objective personality, based only on logic and reason. This may influence the importance of health to people who are motivated to better themselves further. This is a disturbing step back for health in the US.

Posted by: Deborgio | July 13, 2009 1:58 PM

WaPo needs to do their job and remove hateful/offensive remarks. No one expects people to agree but you should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. I use to enjoy reading remarks but they have become so hateful/offensive/mean spirited/spiteful.

WaPo step up and remove stupid/hateful/offensive/racist/sexist remarks.

Posted by: rlj1 | July 13, 2009 1:55 PM

Maybe the first official act of the good doctor should be to require a physician's permission in order to use those "fat carts" to ride around Walmart and similar stores? Get those lazy fatties off their bums and get em walking, unless they are actually ill!

Posted by: Cranios | July 13, 2009 1:47 PM

wow an obese surgeon general.. nice example to set for the massive amount of obese people in this country..

keep eating

Posted by: taburd02 | July 13, 2009 1:39 PM

If you cannot agree with the President's choice you shouldn't be personally attacking the person he has chosen. For some people it appears her weight is an issue. How significant is that if she is healthy and qualified otherwise? Does being skinny mean being more efficient and qualified?

Posted by: wmaclean | July 13, 2009 1:33 PM

I think the Obama team may have missed out on a great opportunity here for a surgeon general nominee. Dr. Herbert Smitherman from Detroit was nominated and to me, seems to have all the qualifications need to tackle the logistics on a universal health care policy. Smitherman has been providing and studying health care reform in Detroit for 22 years, with Detroit a large under-served population in terms of health coverage. Smitherman has been advocating for medical coverage for residents of Detroit for quite some time. In 2003, he was selected as the Detroit News’ “Michiganian of the Year” for his work. Smitherman also co-authored, “Taking Care of the Uninsured: A Path to Reform,” which chronicles a study he conducted about health care in the Detroit area.
I am a little disappointed that someone who has such an extensive knowledge base would not receive a serious look.I think this post is to be seriously considered. Others think that our President in choosing a black overweight women is wrong and a mistake.

Posted by: wmaclean | July 13, 2009 1:30 PM

To be really fair there cannot be that many more minorities left out there and there has to be one that is not a chubbo. At least we know that No one in the Obama Administration has any taste in women.

Posted by: KBlit | July 13, 2009 1:29 PM

"Personal attacks will be removed" eh? I'm seeing a lot of ugly, very personal attacks on this site against Dr. Benjamin. When will these be removed???

Posted by: deborahdessaso749 | July 13, 2009 1:27 PM

President Obama has chosen Regina Benjamin, a family physician from Alabama, to be the next Surgeon General, filling a key public health post ahead of an expected surge in the H1N1 flu next fall.
Benjamin gained fame through her public efforts to rebuild her rural health clinic after Hurricane Katrina devastated it. She founded the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in 1990 and rebuilt it after the hurricane.Benjamin has also served as the first black woman to head the State of Alabama Medical Association and was associate dean for rural health at the University of South Alabama's College of Medicine.Obama announced her his intent to nominate her at a Rose Garden event this morning in which he also spoke of the challenges and need for health care reform. "I understand people are a little nervous and a little scared about making change. You know, the muscles in this town to bring about big changes are a little atrophied, but we're whipping folks back into shape. We are going to get this done," the president said."And if there's anyone who understands the urgency of meeting this challenge in a personal and powerful way, it is the woman who will become our nation's next surgeon general, Dr. Regina Benjamin." The president's first choice to be surgeon general, CNN's Sanjay Gupta, pulled out of the running several months ago, saying he wanted to be able to spend more time with his family.
Gupta had initially said he was attracted to the position because of the ability to use his high-profile reputation to increase awareness of public health and the push health care reform through the Congress.Since then, the administration has been without a top public health official, even as the swine flu has demanded attention. I for one am glad to see our President act regardless of the skin color and gender of the person chosen.

Posted by: wmaclean | July 13, 2009 1:26 PM

Thank God and President Obummer for Dr. Benjamin...at least now I won't have to worry about warning labels on my donuts.

Posted by: En10dre | July 13, 2009 1:26 PM

Choosing an overweight person to guide the nation's health is an error. How is anyone to take her lifestyle recommendations to reduce obesity seriously, when she is not even taking her own advice? It is not as though she is afflicted with a disease that she has no choice in, and it is not as though people are criticizing her attractiveness.

Obesity is by far the most important public health epidemic facing our nation today and this issue should not be made light of in favor of other skills. We should all have doctors who model the lessons they teach. I would never accept an obese practitioner as my personal physician, so why are we accepting an obese surgeon general??

Posted by: apples3 | July 13, 2009 1:25 PM

Whatever your take, she's better than Gupta. That guy is a tool.

Posted by: 123cartoon | July 13, 2009 1:20 PM

According to all the powers that be there will be a surge of the flu.... They also are insisting we take the shot.... Do YOU see a problem.

Posted by: lifehappens | July 13, 2009 1:17 PM

WITH all the great medical establishments in this country, Oaf-bama picks someone from a no-name clinic, simply because she can be relied upon to cheerlead the march to socialism and ineffective government-administered medicine. Oh and she is the color and the gender of change. www.colorofchange.org
Obama - the most racist president we've had in generations!

Posted by: Cranios | July 13, 2009 1:17 PM

I hope that I can reassure the posters who wrongly equate Dr. Benjamin's commitment to a rural clinic with a "podunk" mentality that would not serve the nation well as our Surgeon General. I have had the honor of working with Dr. Benjamin on a number of Boards and Committees.

She has tremendous knowledge and experience in many areas of health care. Of greater importance, she has remarkable judgment and compassion. She has unparalleled experience in the area of assessing and improving physician competency and has worked tirelessly to assure that all physicians are held to high standards of both conduct and practice.

She has led a national health care organization and provided Board of Director leadership to many others. Dr. Benjamin has experience in national health care policy making through her appointments to various national commissions.

Perhaps Dr. Benjamin's greatest asset is her exemplary character. While we often are disheartened by the inertia and inefficiency of government, Regina Benjamin has demonstrated that she will not let red tape obstruct good care. In the post-Katrina chaos that paralyzed much of the Gulf Coast, Dr. Benjamin rolled up her sleeves (literally) and got her clinic up and running. No griping.... No blame game ..... Just results.

It's about time we had federal leaders who are willing to focus on getting the job done. Regina Benjamin is a brilliant choice.

And for you political types....this post is from a life-long Republican activist. That's how impressive Regina Benjamin is!

Posted by: OneMoreCancerSurvivor | July 13, 2009 1:06 PM

I was particularly touched by Presidents Obama's comments about Regina Benjamin from CNN. I am a Utah health insurance agent with www.benefitsmanager.net and www.dentalinsuranceutah.net and deal with getting people coverage day in and day out that can't either afford it or are told they are uninsurable by the health insurance carriers in Utah. I find Regina's service history close to my heart. I only hope that Obama delivers what he says and we don't get a komo dragon health care plan.

Posted by: mikeoliphant | July 13, 2009 1:06 PM

I was particularly touched by Presidents Obama's comments about Regina Benjamin from CNN. I am a Utah health insurance agent with www.benefitsmanager.net and www.dentalinsuranceutah.net and deal with getting people coverage day in and day out that can't either afford it or are told they are uninsurable by the health insurance carriers in Utah. I find Regina's service history close to my heart. I only hope that Obama delivers what he says and we don't get a komo dragon health care plan.

Posted by: mikeoliphant | July 13, 2009 1:05 PM

What makes you all think howard dean wanted the position??? Come on now.....

Posted by: rinny_1983 | July 13, 2009 1:03 PM

Katrina exposed (1) the terrible damage done to America's public health infrastructure by years of intentional political negligence and fiscal deprivation, and (2) the harsh reality that government at the time could not or would not care for our people when we needed it the most. That's why Dr. Benjamin is exactly the kind of person America needs as its Surgeon General. I've been a fan for 15 years and know that she's equally at home treating patients in Bayou La Batre, debating health care on PBS, advising IOM researchers tracking cancer among minority populations, and succeeding in the cage-fighting venues of medical and public health politics.
This is what the MacArthur Foundation said about her last year in awarding her one of its famous "genius" grants: "Benjamin is skilled, as well, in translating research on preventive health measures into accessible, community-based interventions to decrease the disease burdens of her diverse patient base, which includes immigrants from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, who comprise a third of Bayou La Batre’s population. A committed local physician, she also plays key roles statewide and nationally, helping others establish clinics in remote areas of the country and serving in leadership positions in such health-related organizations as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Family Physicians. With a deep, firsthand knowledge of the pressing needs and health disparities afflicting rural, high-poverty communities, Benjamin is ensuring that the most vulnerable among us have access to high-quality care."
Dr. Benjamin "gets it" and America's about to see exactly what that means.

Posted by: emoran1 | July 13, 2009 12:59 PM

Of course with a black President you are going to have a larger percentage of black appointments. Nothing out of place with that, really; however I do think the weight thing speaks volumes about leaning over backwards to find a Proper black.

This is possibly the most important post, our nations health, and it is going to hell due to obesity. Black obesity is especially out of whack.

Would you hire someone with only one eye to pilot Air Force One?

Very poor choice Mr. President. It makes me worry about your other decisions.

Don Jones
Scottsdale, AZ

Posted by: mymanjones | July 13, 2009 12:55 PM

To mharwick: What were the qualifications in business of Presidents Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Chester Arthur, Franklin Pierce, Harry Truman, George W. and George H. W. Bush, Richard Nixon, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Van Buren?

Posted by: thedefendantX | July 13, 2009 12:51 PM

I have an idea for Rahm Emanuel and Barack Obama...
Why Not Dr. Howard Dean For Surgeon General???
The mistreatment of Dr. Dean after all the hard work he has done for the Democratic party and our new president makes me ill and this illness will not be cured by the nomination of anyone but Dr. Dean.

Posted by: dsigeorge | July 13, 2009 12:47 PM

Some of you guys are hilarious. She seems to have very good, relevant experience and has excelled in her field. These are the things we should care about. Dr. Benjamin appears to be a good choice by Obama.

Posted by: JDWcitizen | July 13, 2009 12:47 PM

Raise your hand if you are a public health professional. Do you have an MPH? a DrPH? I have no doubt that Dr. Benjamin is a good person and has done great things in her medical career. However, as a Public Health professional with a degree in Public Health, her appointment to this post as an MD,MBA, is insulting. I agree with the earlier poster that for those who don't work in this area it sounds as though a physician should know what public health is, but the truth is that very few schools of medicine have public training in their curriculum. Public Health is a seperate discipline with separate training. Dr. Benjamin's MBA and MD combined do not give her the training to be considered adequate to lead the nation's Public Health Service.

Posted by: pippsk | July 13, 2009 12:46 PM

I believe it is safe to say that President Obama's first real support for the Presidency in 2008 were those of us who supported Gov. Howard Dean, M.D. in 2004 making him a early lead in the 2004 primaries. Now that he is President in 2009,President Obama feels he must appease those 'Establishment Democrats' who nixed Howard Dean in 2004 primaries by leaving this brilliant man entirely out of his Administration. We understand Obama's need to appoint Repbulicans and 'Establishment Democrats' to his Admin, but to ignore Howard Dean is blasphemy. If it were not for Dean's 52 State campaign, Obama would not be President. We Dr. Gov. Howard Dean advocates are getting more than a little p.o.ed! Good luck Dr. Benjamin!

Posted by: 2goldgoose1 | July 13, 2009 12:44 PM

This is for 'mharwick', you need to read a book and gain some knowledge of history and become capable of 'forecasting' what the future of America, its population and position in the world will be. We have reached this point in our history due to the policies, business practices and greed of our politicians and apathy of the general population. We Americans, on average, read, write and comprehend at an 8th Grade Level. The Chinese, Cubans, Japanese, French, etc. who have an average reading, writing and comprehension level much higher than ours marvel that we are still leading the 'Free World'. This won't last, every nation has its day in the sun. The Sun is starting to set on ours, partly due to people like you.

Posted by: Taylorsucram | July 13, 2009 12:40 PM

Wow!!! There sure is a lot of hate in the U.S.

Posted by: gtsharon | July 13, 2009 12:35 PM

she certainly looks overweight..if obama wants to replace health care in the country, i think he should have picked someone who does not appear to be on the verge of a heart attack/stroke and/or diabetes due to life style choices.. .. ..even more disturbing is her lack of experience in epidemiology..the h1n1 awaits, and she has experience with epidemiology..i don't want an ojt surgeon general..

Posted by: w04equals666 | July 13, 2009 12:35 PM

president obama needs to be complim4ented for great choice
long overdue to get the right kinds of people
regina has graass root passion taking care of patients in rural arae
very passionate and having been with all the health care related activity with respect from all will make great difernce.
great selection
congratulations to regina
best wishes
dinesh patel m d
boston

Posted by: dineshknee | July 13, 2009 12:30 PM

Did I see Goodyear painted on her sides.

Posted by: affirmativeactionpresident | July 13, 2009 12:28 PM

Weight? Color? What the hell is wrong with you guys? This is a political position of great importance. This has nothing to do with a persons physical attributes. I can see that our country has a really long way to go. It seems people are not really thinking about what their posting. Maybe you guys are watching to many reality shows and other meaningless activities. Working at meningless pointless jobs... Going through life like robots. These posts are a joke! What about her background? Qualifications? She not an actor. This is not a beauty contest. Real good analysis America!!

Posted by: bapriddy | July 13, 2009 12:28 PM

I am a German-American and my ethnic group has about 45% of the American Population. It looks as though Obozo the Clown has appointed many more afro-americans to positions of importance than would be prudent given the afro's are only 15% of the population. I feel as though my group is being discriminated against. My group had nothing to do with slavery. Why are the afro's getting all the perks of this magic negro?

Posted by: charlietuna666 | July 13, 2009 12:25 PM

Traveling from California to Georgia, via Alabama rural areas, I observed first-hand the extreme poverty of so many, It broke my heart and I am a black female who lives in a upper-middle class work environment.

I remember thinking, the people with bad-teeth and skin, that were handicapped and unkempt, needed medical assistance. This is why a doctor of Dr. Regina Benjamin's statue has been chosen.

Dr. Benjamin's bio or physical statute may not be perfect, but he who is without fault, cast the first stone.

Congratulations my sister and even if you were not a sister, you would be the BEST choice. President Obama is making all the right moves. Sorry you haters can't get over it. You may as well stop fighting the system and join the elect.

Posted by: osborn_judy8400 | July 13, 2009 12:23 PM

Hey the Jug Eared Clown like her thats always good enough for the Washington Compost. I sure hope she has the most important thing Barry seeks in a flunky,empathy.I guess having a fat SG is like having a smoker as pResident lecturing other Americans about health care.

Posted by: fe59 | July 13, 2009 12:20 PM

Eat moe shrimp.

Posted by: jdcw | July 13, 2009 12:11 PM

H1N1 is a exagerated medical alert!!! The government will mandate and order vaccines...for what...for population control! Don't be fooled people!!!

Posted by: healthgrl | July 13, 2009 12:10 PM

Why can't we have a PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER? Why can't President Obama figure out there is a difference and we have such a great need for someone work has worked in public health. A RURAL family physician, appropriate for the job? Why is Obama doing this?

Posted by: mihalick | July 13, 2009 12:04 PM

Dr. Benjamin is a tremendous pick. I've met her and she has a great deal of experience in health policy as well as being an MD.

Posted by: steveh46 | July 13, 2009 11:59 AM

An overweight Surgeon General....really fine choice Obama!

I'm sure she will be just the example all of the sick, over-weight Americans need!

Posted by: GVJaneRealEstateAz | July 13, 2009 11:58 AM

Uh-oh, another brown-skinned person. Republicans aren't gonna like that.

Posted by: Grandblvd03 | July 13, 2009 11:57 AM

Yes, the Surgeon General office is reserved for non-whites, in the same way that the Office of the President, United States Congress and the Supreme Court has been reserved for whites.

Posted by: dcon1126 | July 13, 2009 11:54 AM

Is the surgeon general position reserved for non-whites? Or at least it seems that a large percentage of SGs are nonwhite.

Posted by: hz9604 | July 13, 2009 11:45 AM

Congratulations to Dr. Benjamin. She may be a Doctor from Alabama, but that doesn't make her a podunk Doctor. She provides excellent care from all reports I have read. This appointment is an honor for her, but I hope this won't curtain the important services she provides at her clinic. She is among a shrinking number of Family Medicine Practioners in the USA. Hopefully her appointment will emphasize the importance of the Family Medicine Practioner in the healthcare systems throughout the USA. To many of the newly educated MD's are opting for the higher paid specialities, or the specialities that don't require the long hours needed in Family Medicine.

Posted by: jbastian1 | July 13, 2009 11:44 AM

That this woman has experience and accomplishments is fine. Too bad the President himself had no accomplishments or experience or backround that made him suitable to be elected. No business experience yet he runs the countries largest businesses; He has no military experience, though he is commander in chief; he had no financial experience, yet he spends trillions and the unemployment rate keeps climbing and people still cannot get a loan to buy a home; he had no foreign policy expertise, yet he deals with the wily former KGB Putin who got the best of him by his agreeing to cut missile defenses; his backround was filled with associations, close and very close of anti Americans, anti Whites, Anti Israel and unrepentant bombers and corrupt housing pals. Would the Senate have confirmed Obama for an appointment to Homeland Security or the Supreme Court. You must be joking.

Posted by: mharwick | July 13, 2009 11:42 AM

To w04equals666,
There has already been a black woman Surgeon General. She was appointed under Clinton. Have you ever read Dr. Regina Benjamin's CV?
She has a passion and drive for primary-care medicine. She won a MacArthur "genius" grant. She started a clinic and rebuilt it after a hurricane.

Posted by: learss791 | July 13, 2009 11:41 AM

While I am impressed with her as a physician (she was apparently a MacArthur Fellow for 2008), she has no PUBLIC HEALTH experience. This is a public health job...not a physician position. Running a clinic is not the same thing as knowing public health (they are actually very different things). Why can't we have a public health expert in a public health job? There are plenty of qualified people (who are both public health experts and physicians) to pick from.

Posted by: sjd1 | July 13, 2009 11:39 AM

When she is confirmed will she be able to overrule the medicine Czar that may already exist among the thirty odd, and I do mean odd, Czars that Obama has appointed without Congressional vetting, approval, foreknowledge; that have not been elected; that report directly to him?

Posted by: mharwick | July 13, 2009 11:37 AM

Good, someone with first-hand experience of the real challenges.
http://www.pnhp.org

Posted by: rooster54 | July 13, 2009 11:28 AM

i have read many articles about how rahm's brother is advising obama about data driven healthcare..in all articles, the mayo clinic model is the shining example..why did obama select this woman from podunk clinic , elsewhere..she has no experience in epidemics..i am afraid obama's zeal to appoint the first fillintheblankwithgenderandorrace for all things important is causing him to miss out on opportunities to truly make worthwhile change..

Posted by: w04equals666 | July 13, 2009 11:21 AM

Best of luck to Dr. Benjamin.

(One wonders why Dr. Howard Dean was not selected.)

Posted by: cib258 | July 13, 2009 11:21 AM

Woooohooooo!! What an excellent pick! Dr. Benjamin is and will be an inspiration to all. And on the day that Senator Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III makes an a$$ of himself and the state that sent him to the senate, how nice to have that offset by a true Alabama treasure like Dr. Benjamin.

Posted by: JWAL1 | July 13, 2009 11:20 AM

I think the Obama team may have missed out on a great opportunity here for a surgeon general nominee. Dr. Herbert Smitherman from Detroit was nominated and to me, seems to have all the qualifications need to tackle the logistics on a universal health care policy. Smitherman has been providing and studying health care reform in Detroit for 22 years, with Detroit a large under-served population in terms of health coverage. Smitherman has been advocating for medical coverage for residents of Detroit for quite some time. In 2003, he was selected as the Detroit News’ “Michiganian of the Year” for his work. Smitherman also co-authored, “Taking Care of the Uninsured: A Path to Reform,” which chronicles a study he conducted about health care in the Detroit area.

I am a little disappointed that someone who has such an extensive knowledge base would not receive a serious look

Posted by: arbogas3 | July 13, 2009 11:01 AM

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