- Obama downplays IRS scandal, blames Obamacare rollout on ‘outdated’ agencies
- Pregnancies decline overall, up among older women
- Pentagon plans to destroy Syrian chemical arms on ship at sea
- Paris Metro issues ‘politeness manual’ to improve passengers’ behavior
- Justin Bieber, crew detained at Australian airport in drug search
- Lee Rigby trial: Muslim who machete-hacked soldier calls it ‘humane’ kill
- GM ending Chevy sales in Europe to focus on Opel and Vauxhall
- Putin’s diplomats to U.S. busted for living high life off $1.5M bilked from Medicaid
- Happy Meal: Couple goes to McDonald’s, leaves with bag packed with cash
- Boehner: It took me 3 to 4 hours to sign up for Obamacare
C. Everett Koop, ‘rock star’ surgeon general, dies
NEW YORK (AP) - Dr. C. Everett Koop has long been regarded as the nation’s doctor_ even though it has been nearly a quarter-century since he was surgeon general.
Koop, who died Monday at his home in Hanover, N.H., at age 96, was by far the best known and most influential person to carry that title. Koop, a 6-foot-1 evangelical Presbyterian with a biblical prophet’s beard, donned a public health uniform in the early 1980s and became an enduring, science-based national spokesman on health issues.
He served for eight years during the Reagan administration and was a breed apart from his political bosses. He thundered about the evils of tobacco companies during a multiyear campaign to drive down smoking rates, and he became the government’s spokesman on AIDS when it was still considered a “gay disease” by much of the public.
Even before that, he had been a leading figure in medicine. He was one of the first U.S. doctors to specialize in pediatric surgery at a time when children with complicated conditions were often simply written off as untreatable. In the 1950s, he drew national headlines for innovative surgeries such as separating conjoined twins.
His medical heroics are well noted, but he may be better remembered for transforming from a pariah in the eyes of the public health community into a remarkable servant who elevated the influence of the surgeon general _ if only temporarily.
Koop’s religious beliefs grew after the 1968 death of his son David in a mountain-climbing accident, and he became an outspoken opponent of abortion. His activism is what brought him to the attention of the administration of President Ronald Reagan, who decided to nominate him for surgeon general in 1981. Though once a position with real power, surgeon generals had been stripped of most of their responsibilities in the 1960s.
By the time Koop got the job, the position was kind of a glorified health educator.
But Koop ran with it. One of his early steps involved the admiral’s uniform that is bestowed to the surgeon general but that Koop’s predecessors had worn only on ceremonial occasions. In his first year in the post, Koop stopped wearing his trademark bowties and suit jackets and instead began wearing the uniform, seeing it as a way to raise the visual prestige of the office.
In those military suits, he surprised the officials who had appointed him by setting aside his religious beliefs and feelings about abortion and instead waging a series of science-based public health crusades.
He was arguably most effective on smoking. He issued a series of reports that detailed the dangers of tobacco smoke, and in speeches began calling for a smoke-free society by the year 2000. He didn’t get his wish, but smoking rates did drop from 38 percent to 27 percent while he was in office _ a huge decline.
Koop led other groundbreaking initiatives, but perhaps none is better remembered than his work on AIDS.
The disease was first identified in 1981, before Koop was officially in office, and it changed U.S. society. It destroyed the body’s immune system and led to ghastly death, but initially was identified in gay men, and many people thought of it as something most heterosexuals didn’t have to worry about.
U.S. scientists worked hard to identify the virus and work on ways to fight it, but the government’s health education and policy efforts moved far more slowly. Reagan for years was silent on the issue. Following mounting criticism, Reagan in 1986 asked Koop to prepare a report on AIDS for the American public.
- 'Hunger Games' delivers Obama's message on income inequality: liberal group
- U.S. drops 2,000 mice on Guam by parachute to kill snakes
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Activists encourage Obama to circumvent Congress, use more executive authority
- CARSON: Getting to the top by starting at the bottom
- Obama returns to class warfare as poll numbers plunge
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- U.S. debt jumps a record $328 billion tops $17 trillion for first time
- Hack attack: 2 million Facebook, Twitter passwords stolen
- American teacher shot and killed at Benghazi international school
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Understanding economic events with a free market explanation
John Wood illustrates a new American politics, and the path to get there.
Interviews and show reviews from the Los Angeles punk scene past and present. Los Angeles has always been rich in punk rock talent since punk rock was born.
NFL junkie Eric Golub reports on his favorite obsession. There is no football offseason. Every February he pretends to care about other sports while sobbing uncontrollably each Sunday until September.
White House pets gone wild!