What is it about the Republican Party that makes it so attractive as an organization for failed minor celebrities to make a bid for political power?
One would think that the cautionary tale of Donald Trump would be enough to discourage any figures from outside of politics from considering a potential career change, but instead, it just seems to have encouraged people with no relevant expertise to throw their hats in the political ring.
The failure of Caitlyn Jenner’s gubernatorial ambitions in California seems to have had little effect on the decision by Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Turkish-American TV personality popularized by Oprah Winfrey, to abandon his career as a dispenser of pseudo-science and alternative medicine tips on his syndicated television program and run for an open U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania next year.
In conjunction with his newly announced political ambitions, an appearance that Dr. Oz made on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program last year — one that raised significant questions about his commitment to upholding the Hippocratic Oath to do no harm — has come back to haunt him as he shifts into the political arena.
Discussing the effect that the COVID pandemic has had on America’s educational system, Dr. Oz used some very unappetizing language when weighing the tradeoffs between opening schools prematurely during the infectious disease crisis and doing what’s necessary to protect the students and school employees from new variants of the virus.
It’s remarkable that someone whose life is supposedly dedicated to saving lives would even contemplate a “tradeoff” involving what would amount to the deaths of around 1.3 to 1.5 million children at his “2 to 3%” figure.
The response on social media to his musings on this “appetizing opportunity” last year indicates that Dr. Oz may need to choose his words more carefully when speaking in public if he wants to make it to the finish line in the Pennsylvania Senate race.
It doesn’t apply to the privileged. We are all dispensable.
— TeeKay #JusticeMatters (@TKinMB) April 16, 2020
— William Bean (@wbeans) August 15, 2020
Kids make good appetizers
— Stop GQP Fascism (@Ktallamigo) April 16, 2020
Even more evidence that he’s no Doctor. Nothing but a shill.
— Steven Bradley (@brado) April 17, 2020
I can’t even with this level of stupid and crazy.
Dr. Oz is a hack, yes…
But this shit is down right dangerous.
This clown needs to stick to what he knows… telling Americans who don’t work in the middle of the day, to eat more Fucking quinoa.
Because this is just f’ng dumb.
— Jo (@JoJoFromJerz) April 16, 2020
Perhaps the best response to the TV doctor’s Swiftian comments came from a fellow physician who wrote an article for The Daily Beast pleading with Pennsylvanians to reject the candidacy of the New Jersey resident in their neighboring state, including the most ringing statement of non-endorsement that one could imagine: “I greet this prospect with the same enthusiasm I’d have for contracting dysentery.”
"Can we please not do this, Pennsylvania? By 'this,' I mean send Mehmet Oz to the Senate."
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) November 30, 2021
For his part, Dr. Oz and his political handlers at least have some awareness of the damage that his old comments have had on his nascent campaign.
They pointed back to the acknowledgment of his colossal mistake that he issued shortly after his comments roiled his viewership last April.
I’ve realized my comments on risks around opening schools have confused and upset people, which was never my intention. I misspoke. pic.twitter.com/Kq1utwiCjR
— Dr. Mehmet Oz (@DrOz) April 16, 2020
He’ll never get an endorsement from Donald Trump if he keeps on apologizing for his reprehensible statements!
Pennsylvania, you can do so much better.
Don’t elect another third-rate celebrity to do a job that they are not competent to handle.
And, for your own sake, don’t elect a Republican.
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Vinnie Longobardo is the Managing Editor of Occupy Democrats. He's a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.