From the Hill:
Citing a lack of experience, Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) is leading an effort to thwart Barack Obama’s expected nomination of CNN’s Sanjay Gupta to become surgeon general....But there are also indications that Conyers’s opposition is linked to a 2007 public clash between Gupta and the liberal filmmaker Michael Moore. ...The House Judiciary Committee chairman doesn’t have a vote, or a formal role, in the anticipated Gupta nomination. Yet, he is lobbying the Senate and the incoming president to reject Gupta....In a “Dear Colleague” letter on Wednesday, Conyers — a major proponent of universal healthcare — denounced Gupta and asked members to sign a letter to Obama urging the president-elect not to nominate the TV personality....Conyers planned to call Obama directly Thursday afternoon to voice his concern and has raised the issue with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)....In his letter, Conyers wrote, “It is not in the best interests of the nation to have someone like this who lacks the requisite experience needed to oversee the federal agency that provides crucial healthcare assistance to some of the poorest and most underserved communities in America.”...Conyers also cited a Jan. 6 blog item by Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Unlike Conyers, however, Krugman does not have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications.....Krugman pointed out that Gupta engaged in a televised argument with Moore in 2007 over his movie, “SiCKO.”....Conyers is friends with Moore, a Michigan native who is an ardent backer of the legislator’s universal healthcare bill. Moore’s film made the case for the U.S. to adopt a “single-payer” healthcare system like Canada’s....On Thursday, Moore’s website prominently highlighted Krugman’s blog on Gupta....The Moore-Gupta showdown occurred on CNN’s “Larry King Live” in the wake of Gupta’s televised report on “SiCKO.” The Moore-Gupta video has been viewed over 239,000 times on YouTube........The Krugman blog stated, “I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over SiCKO. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore ‘fudged his facts,’ when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.”...Krugman added that “appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.”...Conyers contends that Gupta is against universal healthcare coverage.....Even though the surgeon general is not in control of implementing healthcare coverage policy, Conyers said that Gupta would represent the face of healthcare.....“He becomes the spokesperson on public health for the United States,” Conyers told the Hill.....Obama has not yet formally appointed Gupta. The Washington Post reported this week that the job has been offered to Gupta and he wants it.....Gupta did not deny the Post’s report but declined to comment.