Editorials Respond to Proposed Coburn PACHA Appointment
The Bush administration's expected appointment of former Rep. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS has generated editorial responses in several newspapers. The council was created in 1995 to offer guidance on HIV/AIDS issues to the White House and federal agencies. Recent editorials include the following:
- The Muskogee Daily Phoenix and Times-Democrat says Coburn's goals for the council are "the right goals" and that it is "confident Coburn will seek wide consensus on how to achieve them." According to the Oklahoma paper, Coburn has said he wants the council to "remove HIV/AIDS issues from the political arena and deal with them as public health matters." He also hopes to "improve prevention efforts to cut the rate of new infections." The editorial notes that Coburn's appointment is "not political," pointing out that he supported Alan Keyes, not President Bush, in the 2000 Republican primaries. The paper concludes that even if the paper disagrees with "certain approaches Coburn advocates from his new 'bully pulpit,'" the disagreements will be "only over specific tactics, not over the goals he believes the council should pursue" (Muskogee Daily Phoenix and Times-Democrat, 1/26).
- The Daily Oklahoman says the Coburn appointment is a "wis[e]" decision. It would be "foolish not to use Coburn's perspective as a medical doctor" and his experience in Washington, the Oklahoman adds. Citing Coburn's AIDS-related efforts in Congress, where he worked for increased HIV/AIDS prevention funding, the editorial concludes, "This is a good fit for Coburn and for the nation's public health policies" (Daily Oklahoman, 1/28).
- The San Francisco Chronicle criticizes the Coburn appointment, calling him a "hard-line ideologue" and his appointment to the council a "sharp slap in the face" to both AIDS activists and public-health professionals. The Chronicle says Coburn's "narrow views" -- including his description of homosexuality as immoral and his fight in Congress against HIV-prevention programs that "rely on condoms" -- should "disqualify him from any role in designing federal policy." The editorial also criticizes Coburn for working to reduce San Francisco's share of federal AIDS funding while in Congress. The White House has "kowtowed unnecessarily to the Republican Party's right wing" by appointing Coburn, the editorial says. While Coburn did support Ryan White CARE Act funding in general, his record demonstrates he is "all too willing to let politics override sound science and humanity on AIDS policy," the Chronicle concludes (San Francisco Chronicle, 1/28).