MY SERIOUS REACTION ON THE DEATH OF DR. KOOP:
The recent passage of former Surgeon General Koop has many people reflecting on his good practical nature when it came to healthcare, generally citing his putting aside politically popular agendas to actually deal with the problem at hand. The example generally being cited is his strong support for proper safe sex education and information, rather than facing down AIDS with calls for abstinence or simply ignoring it altogether.
For me, however, what I carry with me is a moment on a TV show. He was on one of Fred Friendly’s great panel discussion shows, either The Constitution: That Delicate Balance or more likely the other one, the name of which eludes me at the moment. The panelists were discussing a hypothetical about being approached by a panhandler, one who made clear that he was seeking money for booze. A female journalist explained that he would not give the guy money, as he would use that on booze, which was his problem; instead, she would buy him a sandwich. All good and upright, right? But Koop countered that he would give the guy money for booze. He’d offer him help finding a clinic if he wanted it, but this guy is an alcoholic, and as much as we may hate the disease, if he is stuck without booze he will be facing very real physical symptoms, very real consequences. That was the practical situation on the ground, to be dealt with. He gained a lot of respect from me in that moment.
MY OTHER REACTION ON THE DEATH OF DR. KOOP:
In less than a year, we’ve lost both Bork and Koop. We’re running out of the sound effects that people make when suddenly astonished. I sure hope Paul Begala is okay!