Surgeon General Joseph Ladapo has done the unthinkable: He has made his predecessor, Scott Rivkees, look like an all-star.
By no means should Rivkees be the measuring stick for public health acumen. He was a mostly silent pushover, and one of the few times he gave a sound opinion as Surgeon General — when he said Floridians may need to social distance for a year or more — he was ushered into a back room for a not-so-private lashing.
In other words, he was about as useful as a chocolate teapot.
But Ladapo is worse than a do-nothing figurehead. Within a matter of weeks, he has transformed the Department of Health into an enforcement arm for the state’s spite-fueled coronavirus response strategy.
He has ordered COVID-19-positive students back into the classroom and spread vaccine misinformation. Now, he’s taking heat for refusing to wear a mask when visiting Sen. Tina Polsky, who has cancer, in her office at the Capitol.
When asked to leave, he couldn’t resist throwing out a barb drenched in smugness: “Sometimes I try to reason with unreasonable people for fun.”
If Dr. Ladapo finds joy in reasoning with unreasonable people, he should clear his calendar and talk to himself in the mirror. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that he was urging people to “focus on protecting vulnerable populations … by directing testing and personal protective equipment to them and their close contacts.”
A lot has changed in the past year, but the medical definition of “vulnerable” has not. Nor have the social standards for manners or respect. Ladapo knows this, but instead he flouted the best practices he once supported.
That’s the trouble with being an unscrupulous contrarian: Given a long enough timeline, you end up contradicting yourself.
For his own sake, let’s hope he also enjoys reasoning with reasonable people, because he’ll have to do a lot of that to earn Senate confirmation.