Word that President-elect Obama would nominate CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta to the post of Surgeon General was greeted with a mixture of snickers and contempt from Conservatives circles across the blogosphere and social networking sites Tuesday. One of the more cynical responses commonly bandied about was, Whats the problem? Was Dr. Phil unavailable? While on the face of it, the choice of Gupta may appear comical, on closer inspection, it may be yet another case of Obama and his team being uncannily spot on. Associate chief of neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, an assistant professor at Emory University School of Medicine, chief medical correspondent for CNN and a former White House Fellow and adviser to Hillary Clinton, Gupta is at ease from the operating room to the classroom and committee room. In addition to writing a column for Time and hosting House Call with Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the Indo-American graduate of the University of Michigan Medical Center is also a best-selling author. Embedded with a Navy medical unit during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the accomplished neurosurgeon operated on both Iraqi civilians and American service personnel. One would think at the very least this would give Gupta's Conservative detractors pause, if not reason enough for their grudging respect. Guptas selection by Obama signals that despite the dire economic and fiscal challenges facing the incoming administration, public health policy still remains a priority even more so because of the impact on insurance coverage and public health services that are a byproduct of the current crisis. While some may scoff and bandy about stereotypical humor at the thought of an Indo-American serving as the nations most prominent voice on health issues and policy, it acknowledges a reality found in hospitals and clinics from Manhattan and Los Angeles to Logan, West Virginia minority and expatriate physicians and surgeons are now commonplace in Americas operating rooms and doctors office. From a political perspective, Gupta selection makes sense for a number of reasons. Among them are: - He share an appreciation for the possibilities offered by new media outlets and communications technologies with the President-elect and his team of advisors. Look for Gupta to spearhead a drive to incorporate them into the dialogue between the administration and the public on health policy and programs. - Guptas already prominent personal recognition and public familiarity along with his media savvy and journalistic experience will garner greater coverage of his work than an equally qualified but lesser known physician would receive. Given the appropriate latitude and independence, he could truly elevate the role of the Surgeon General beyond merely towing the administration line into being a driving force and moral authority for public health policy. - In addition to reaching out to minorities in general with Gupta's appointment, it also opens up a direct line to the Indo-American community. This has the potential to reap both domestic and international benefits for Obama. From a domestic perspective, Gupta's appointment is recognition of the growing influence and power of the Indo-American community in an increasingly culturally diverse America. Along with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, Gupta is leading the Indo-American community out of the Squishy-Marts of "The Simpsons" into the mainstream of American society and politics. Accordingly, Obama can expect to receive significant financial support and political goodwill from the Indo-American community in the future. In the international sphere, Gupta's appointment will reinforce a burgeoning alliance between the world's oldest democracy, America, and it's largest one, India. From a geopolitical perspective, India is potentially one of America's most critical allies in the 21st Century. Despite longstanding tensions with erstwhile American ally Pakistan, India serves as a natural counterbalance to a rising China, both regionally and on the world stage. Should America's influence wane and she find herself unable to lead the ranks of free nations in the future, cultivating an alliance with India now may provide her with a trusted ally to pass the torch to somewhere down the road much like Great Britain found in the United States when it experienced a similar fate. While some may have initially laughed at word of Guptas impending nomination, in the end it is in fact another example of the Obama teams ability to find diamonds and success in the heretofore unexplored rough. The Doctor is in, indeed, faithful readers. Stay tuned for further updates as events warrant and health policy moves from being a filler to a leader on the evening news.