WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush's nominee to become the next surgeon general said Thursday he would resign rather than allow politics to push aside science.
At his Senate confirmation hearing, Dr. James W. Holsinger sought to offer assurance that he would be a strong voice for public health, unswayed by political ideology, and to answer criticism of his past writings. He said a controversial 1991 paper about homosexuality and health no longer represents his views.
Holsinger's hearing came just two days after the last person to serve in the post told Congress that the Bush administration had manipulated the surgeon general's office for political purposes.
Asked what he would do if pressured to promote ideology over sound science, Holsinger said he could never be persuaded to advocate a position contrary to his conscience.
``I think I have a clear response to that. I would resign,'' Holsinger told the Senate health committee.
Been there, heard that? Chief Justice Roberts? Justice Alito? Clarence? At least this appointment isn't for life.
And on that sterling conscience:
Committee Chairman Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said he was worried that if confirmed, Holsinger would let his own ideological beliefs cloud his scientific judgment. He referred to the paper that Holsinger wrote on homosexuality for a study committee of the United Methodist Church.
``Dr. Holsinger's paper is ideological and decidedly not an accurate analysis of the science then available on homosexuality,'' Kennedy said. ``Dr. Holsinger's paper cherry picks and misuses data to support his thesis that homosexuality is unhealthy and unnatural.''
What a difference an election makes? Or not?