Operator, can you please page the Surgeon General on call?

The name of neurosurgeon and health journalist Sanjay Gupta was leaked in early January as Barack Obama’s choice for Surgeon General. His selection has caused controversy, and the formal nomination seems to have been delayed by the search for a Secretary of Health and Human Services after the withdrawal of Tom Daschle. While we’re waiting for Gupta to be confirmed, we can ask: what exactly is the Surgeon General supposed to do, and in this administration whose watchword is change, can the office be more useful?

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