It appears Thomas R. Friedan will be the next CDC head. Senate confirmation is not required for Friedan to assume the position of director.
You may remember Friedan from his premature statements following the release of the African circumcision trials. He said that the New York City Department of Public Health and Mental Hygiene would consider promoting circumcision among gay men despite the fact that at the time there was no evidence that circumcision would lower HIV rates among men who have sex with men. Shortly thereafter, three studies showed that gay men receive no protection from circumcision against HIV.
Justin Wilson of the Center for Consumer Freedom, an advocacy group representing restaurants and food companies, is quoted in Bloomberg as saying that “Friedan doesn’t simply blur the line between what is the government’s responsibility in regulating health and what is the individual’s responsibility; he barely recognizes its existence.” Wilson has gone on to say that Friedan is an “overzealous activist who doesn’t give any consideration to the importance of personal responsibility or privacy.” While it’s true Wilson represents those who have a lot to lose from the ban on smoking in public places and the ban on trans-fats served in restaurant food, his point is one with wide application.
One doesn’t have to think too long or hard to imagine a man like Friedan unwisely pushing for circumcision on a hunch and little proof or thought about the rights of the individual to choose or refuse the procedure – just as the individual can choose or refuse smoking and trans-fats. Admittedly, a key difference is that second hand smoke is a recognized hazard and smokers can still smoke elsewhere. However, banning trans-fats is harder to justify.
If you would like to weigh in on Friedan’s candidacy and soon his tenure as CDC head, contact the White House, the only office that matters in this appointment:
The White House (contact form)
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Visitors Office: 202-456-2121
Link: Frieden, New York Health Chief, Picked to Head CDC (Update3) [dead link]
Link to CNN’s coverage: http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/15/obama.cdc/index.html