Kansas Senator Wants Indian-American Nominee to Meet His Cool Indian Friends

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 4 2014 7:49 PM

Kansas Senator Wants Indian-American Nominee to Meet His Cool Indian Friends

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Sen. Pat Roberts has printed-out lists of Indian friends.

Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

For reasons I completely understand, the confirmation hearing of surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy has not gotten a ton of attention. Factor one: The filibuster reform of late last year will let Murthy be confirmed by a simple majority vote. Factor two: It's the nomination for surgeon general. So not many people were paying attention when Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts told Murthy, with measured pride, that Dodge City was home to some wonderful Indian-American doctors.

"I'm going to invite you, because we have a lovely doctor from India," said Roberts (roughly 1:37:30 in the video). "She's in her mid-30s, and she's highly respected by the community.  And another doctor from India who did a carpal tunnel when I did a stupid thing. And so, I think you'd be right at home, and we would welcome you."

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Roberts went on to explain that his staff did not let him on Twitter, and joined Sens. Lamar Alexander and Mike Enzi in asking Murthy to explain tweets in which he'd criticized politicians "scared of" the NRA and asked "What's wrong with choice?" And that's the invisible impact of the filibuster reforms. Absent them, Murthy would be embattled. But with the filibuster nuked, he's sleepwalking through to confirmation.

David Weigel is a former Slate political reporter. 

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