Rand Paul’s medical malpractice
The universal judgment that Jared Lee Loughner (we always give three names to our assassins, don’t we?) is a lunatic is simply a profound grasp of the obvious.
Anyone who would do what Loughner did on Saturday morning in Tucson clearly is unhinged. You don’t have to be a psychiatric professional to come to that conclusion.
But Rand Paul, the newly minted Republican senator from Kentucky, has falsely claimed for himself the cloak of professionalism in publicly offering his diagnosis of Loughner’s problem.
Paul, who was trained as an ophthalmologist, not a psychiatrist, DECLARED yesterday that he has read some of Loughner’s writings and that “from a medical point of view there’s a lot to suggest paranoid schizophrenia.”
Medical point of view? The senator has no more qualifications to offer a medical point of view on Loughner’s condition than you or I do.
Paul’s unwarranted offering of a “medical” diagnosis in this case might be negligible were it not for the fact that it echoes at least two other examples of conservatives misusing their professional credentials in matters of political interest.
In 2005, then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a heart surgeon, delivered a lengthy floor speech in which he declared that Terri Schiavo was not in a persistent vegetative state, despite her own doctors’ claims to the contrary.
Frist’s diagnosis was based entirely on his having examined video footage of Schiavo, who was then the subject of a legal and political controversy over whether her life should be ended.
When Schiavo subsequently died, an autopsy showed that her brain was “profoundly atrophied” and that the damage was irreversible. In short, the post-mortem examination put the lie to Frist’s phony and politically-motivated diagnosis. (See HERE.)
And then there’s the example of conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer, a licensed psychiatrist who has the bad habit of invoking his professional credentials in his political comments.
In one such case, Krauthammer, who was taking issue with something Al Gore had said, pompously declaimed: “I’m a psychiatrist. I don’t usually practice on camera. But this is the edge of looniness, this idea that there’s a vast conspiracy, it sits in a building, it emanates, it has these tentacles, is really at the edge. [Al Gore] could use a little help.”
There are more examples of Krauthammer’s pseudo-professional excesses HERE.
The moral of all this is that politicians and political pundits who also are doctors should not invoke their professional credentials in political contexts. Instances of such amount to malpractice.