Joe Henderson: Joseph Ladapo’s appointment is Governor’s way to punk the libs

It doesn't much matter who the Surgeon General is because Ron DeSantis makes all major health decisions for Florida.

Dr. Joseph Ladapo isn’t on his way to confirmation as Florida’s new Surgeon General because of his medical knowledge. His looming elevation to that position is something more basic politically.

It’s simply this: Tallahassee Republican lawmakers know Democrats hate Ladapo, and Gov. Ron DeSantis wants him. That, they figure, is more than enough reason to approve his nomination.

Everything about his elevation from an obscure UCLA assistant professor to Florida’s top doc screams of DeSantis punking the libs. To say that his nomination last fall was a shocker understates the matter.

It’s not just that Ladapo agrees with DeSantis that mask and vaccine mandates don’t work. Both men turned an international health crisis into a chest bump.

Freedom, baby! If an unvaccinated or unmasked person transmits the virus to you, too bad.

Ladapo doesn’t phrase it that way, of course. He casts it in more manly terms. But both he and the Governor say we can’t be afraid of a virus that has killed 63,763 Floridians with no end in sight.

“Florida will completely reject fear as a way of making policies,” Ladapo said in a Miami Herald story after his nomination. “That’s been something that’s been, unfortunately, a centerpiece of health policies.”

Rejecting fear is not the same as saying we shouldn’t take precautions. However, Ladapo, like DeSantis, says those precautions should be optional, so it’s easy to see how he got this job.

Who are we kidding, though? The Governor makes all major health decisions for Florida. It doesn’t matter who the Surgeon General is. Remember Scott Rivkees?

Me neither.

With all that in mind, let’s turn our attention to Ladapo’s confirmation hearing Wednesday. It was quite a show.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book repeatedly tried to get a straightforward answer from Ladapo on a simple question to the medical man: Do vaccines work against COVID-19?

“Yes or no questions are not that easy to find in science,” he said, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

That’s known as a non-answer answer.

As Florida Politics reported, Democrats complained about Ladapo’s replies. Committee Chair Manny Diaz then asked Ladapo, “Can you try to be more concise?”

Apparently not.

Book then said, “We get two buttons to push here, Dr. Ladapo. Yes or no. Do vaccines work in preventing COVID-19? Yes or no.”

Again, Ladapo bobbed and weaved. Finally, Democrats gave up and left the meeting before the vote. I imagine Republicans were giggling and clinking glasses after that happened. They also unanimously voted to send the nomination to the full Senate.

It will pass, and Republicans will gloat about another victory over the libs.

Meanwhile, the state Health Department will have a rude and evasive man with questionable views in charge.

Everyone could tell early on the let-‘er-rip attitude Ladapo would bring to the job. Remember how Democratic Sen. Tina Polsky, who was battling breast cancer, threw him out of her office when he wouldn’t put on a mask?

Asked if he regretted that, he, of course, wouldn’t say either way.

I guess since Ladapo wasn’t afraid of the big, bad bug, he figured Polsky shouldn’t be either. Either that, or he didn’t care.

Maybe it was both.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • tom palmer

    January 26, 2022 at 9:15 pm

    If you’re going to have a charlatan for a governor, it’s logical to bring the same talent to your appointees.

  • Impeach Biden

    January 26, 2022 at 9:39 pm

    The Democrats hate anything or anyone DeSantis supports. On a National level look how they treated the last two Supreme Court nominees. I hope the Republicans remember Kavanaugh.

  • Drick

    January 27, 2022 at 6:56 am

    So because she asked a yes or no question that doesn’t have a truly yes or no answer the democrats are pissed he didn’t fall for scheme to push him into an answer that they would later use to beat him with a hammer had he said yes or no. And the they still beat him with a hammer for not saying yes or no. Child’s play, They didnt want an honest answer they just wanted to play politics. This article is not journalism is purely a propaganda opinion piece

  • Charles

    January 27, 2022 at 5:14 pm

    What can be said
    Not many facts here just partisan politics masquerading as facts. We all know Henderson is a political hack that relies on yellow opinion journalism to create division.

  • Ron Ogden

    January 27, 2022 at 7:38 pm

    Joe Henderson: Joseph Ladapo’s appointment is Governor’s way to punk the libs

    What else are libs for?

  • John Hames

    January 28, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    It’s about time the Republicans got some grit in their crawl and put people in the Democrats hate.

    Cuz the Democrats been doing that to Republicans for a really long time.💥

  • Concern Citizen

    February 4, 2022 at 2:43 pm

    Ladapo was born in Nigeria,. Is he the guy purporting to be the Nigerian Prince wanting my help to get money out of Nigeria? I have sent him large amount of money, but all I got is a bottle of.Ivermectin from him.

Comments are closed.


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