Thursday, March 14, 2013

C. Everett Koop: "Then, strikingly enough, he changed."

Did the office make the man? It seems that once C. Everett Koop was elevated to surgeon general, he was able to separate his personal views from the requirements demanded by the job. As Perlstein observes, "You don’t see his like much any more, in that there Republican Party."

C. Everett Koop, 1916–2013, by Rick Perlstein (The Nation)

A decent enough interval has passed, I hope, to begin to think about an interesting figure of our recent history in a bit of a critical temper. C. Everett Koop died on February 25 this year, the former surgeon general of the United States, between 1981 and 1989—the only person to hold that title to have become a household name, not least for his goofy half-beard and his charming insistence on wearing his ceremonial brocaded Gilbert-and-Sullivan-style uniform everywhere. But also for, it has to be said, serving as an exemplar of honor and courage in a dishonorable time.

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