The neurosurgeon more powerful than Cheney

Yesterday Siddhartha informed us all of the first Indian American governor to ever hold office in the U.S. (even if it will only be for a few days). It is a proud step forward. I mean, the only powerful desi politician right now is Bobby Jindal, and we all know there are mixed emotions regarding him. The situation in New Jersey got me thinking as to whether or not there is any other back door action to be taken advantage of out there. Can us desis (who often face an electability hurdle because of the pronunciation of our names and our brown faces) get our hands on the levers of power by “non-traditional” means instead?

As most of you are aware, South Dakota’s senior senator, Tim Johnson, fell ill a couple of weeks ago:

In Washington, D.C., on December 13, 2006, during the broadcast of a live radio interview with WNAX radio in Yankton, South Dakota, Johnson suffered bleeding in the brain caused by cerebral arteriovenous malformation, a congenital problem that causes enlarged and tangled blood vessels. He underwent surgery at George Washington University Hospital to drain the blood and stop further bleeding. Johnson’s condition was critical after the surgery. Johnson’s physician, Admiral John Eisold, said that day that “[i]t is premature to determine whether further surgery will be required or to assess any long-term prognosis.”

As of December 28, 2006, Johnson remained hospitalized in George Washington University Hospital. According to a neurosurgeon on the hospital’s staff, Johnson was being weaned from the medication used to keep him sedated, and he was opening his eyes and responding to his wife. [Link]


p>Johnson’s health is critical to the balance of power in our country. The Senate has 49 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and two Independents that caucus with the Democrats. This equates to a 51-49 majority for the Dems. If Johnson is permanently incapacitated then the Republican governor of South Dakota can appoint someone to fill the vacancy. He will most definitely appoint a Republican. Thus, we will be at 50-50 again and Vice President Cheney (a.k.a. Lord of the Sith) would become the tie-breaking vote. The Republicans would then control the Senate as before the recent election. Enter Dr. Vivek Deshmukh:

The surgery on Johnson was performed by Dr. Vivek Deshmukh, a neurosurgeon with special expertise and subspecialty training in cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery, the statement said. The surgical team included Caputy and Dr. Anthony Venbrux, director of cardiovascular and interventional radiology. The surgery was a success, the statement said. [Link]

“Senator Johnson is sedated to allow his systems to rest and recover from the hemorrhage, and we anticipate no further tests or procedures in the near future,” neurosurgeon Vivek Deshmukh said in a statement issued by Johnson’s office.

“This is expected to continue through the holidays,” Vivek added. [Link]

Here is what I am slowly leading to. Rather than trying in futility to get desis to win political office, maybe we should try a more circuitous approach to the problem. Can anyone contest that Dr. Deshmukh is currently the most powerful man in America? What I am advocating is that we encourage young desis to perhaps go into non-traditional fields like medicine. We might be able to make more of a political impact that way.

61 thoughts on “The neurosurgeon more powerful than Cheney

  1. I know that was overly sarcastic but I don’t see how that’s any better than wanting your kid to be a doctor. I hope I can raise my kids without any expectations except for their happiness (and that they vote democrat :) ) Fortunately my dad was supportive of my career even though he still doesn’t really get it.

    I’m sorry if I was grumpy…but it upsets me when people imply that being “another brown doctor” is just a cop-out alternative to living a real, fulfilling life.

  2. Desishiksa, I meant no offense when I said I wonÂ’t tolerates another brown doctor, my husband is a doctor and so is 85% of my family, and 55% of the people I know. With those statistics I want my kid to be someone special, once again not that doctors arenÂ’t special, I really wish he would grow up to be the next Justin Timberlake, I would love to be JT’s mum! hee hee (BTW I donÂ’t even have any kids) And you have to admit, there is an excessive amount of brown doctors! Almost all my little nieces and nephews have been groomed by their parents to say that they want to be a doctor when they grow up, I donÂ’t fancy hearing 2 year old Deeya saying she wants to be a doookter (she lost her front tooth) when she doesnÂ’t know what on earth it really is. I would want my children to know that they could be whatever they want because I wonÂ’t stop them from their dreams, but I am brown and what ever it is, it better pay their bills because their dad and I will be in Tahiti and wonÂ’t bail their ass out!:) Happy New year everyone!

    Desishiksa, once again sorry if I offended you and I have nothing but respect for a profession that serves only to better the lives of others.

  3. CinnamonRani,
    Thanks for your response, I am no longer offended. Ironically I know exactly where you are coming from because even though my parents didn’t expect me to be a doctorwhen I was a non-pre-med Biology major in college, everyone assumed that was what I was going to be which used to annoy the hell out of me. I understand this is all just a response to the overwhelming notion in American desi society that being a doctor is one of a a few legitimate professions. And maybe I don’t really get it because I grew up in India, where even though parents still want their kids to be doctors there are hundreds of succesful desi artists, actors, filmmakers, journalists, etc to provide good role models.

    I too, hope that there will soon be more desis is non-traditional professions and that those in medicine will become more political (including me). But at least we come from a culture that expects women to go to medical school, not “finishing school”…it could be worse!

    My husband wants me to share this joke

  4. I once taught at an Adult Education Center in L. A. Very fulfilling. The students had probably all been at their minimum wage jobs for 12-16 hours during the day. Gave me great insights into America. Our most fun classes were map reading.

  5. It’s rather easy to claim to want to be or aspire to an artistic lifestyle for yourself or your children. But POVERTY is not cool. Either for yourselves, or your li’l ones. So think long and hard before you wish that upon ur kids.

    That’s a cop-out :) I mean, by extension, if your kid loves art and you’re trying to force them into another field, wouldn’t the fact that they’re spending over 50% of their life in a field/job they don’t enjoy be “not cool” also? Plus – correct me if I’m wrong – but most of the folks I know living “artistic lifestyles” are also holding down alternate jobs, or they are involved in some non-starving-artist capacity.

  6. It’s rather easy to claim to want to be or aspire to an artistic lifestyle for yourself or your children. But POVERTY is not cool. Either for yourselves, or your li’l ones. So think long and hard before you wish that upon ur kids.

    Poverty is relative, of course. One can have lots of money, and still be poor in other ways. A low teacher’s salary is frustrating not because I live a life of poverty, but because I don’t think I’m appropriately compensated for the amount of work (emotional and otherwise) that I do.

    That being said, I chose my profession despite the $ issue because it makes me happy. Lucky for me I’m helping (hopefully!) some people out and I (usually) don’t have to see any blood. ;)

  7. To every teacher on here, if you are from NYC I can definitely connect you guys to my mother who used to be a teacher and now is an ELL ISS (dont know what that stands for!). She is trying to organize a group of Indian educators in NYC. I think her 1st goal is to get Hindi added as a second language in the NYC school system.

    But, to the rest of you, it’s a great way to not feel like the only Indian in the education system =)

  8. Mediocrity exists in every field and in art (any kind), it will ensure that you die in penury. A lot of musicians and writers etc hold day jobs while they are waiting for their big break. But ask their families or those around them (especially in desi circles) and they are associated with their day jobs and the art part is considered a hobby. Surprisingly, if you go to any of the smaller film schools in NYC like New School, SVA, NYFA (not so much with NYU or Columbia), among foreign students the biggest group are Indians almost 10% and most from the udderland.

    I quit my corporate job to turn filmmaker and have massively downshifted my life so i can afford rent and beer. But I am 28 and spent 3 years thinking about it before I decided to make the plunge. Had I done it when I was 20, it would have been tempting to quit. Besides, success is subjective. A lot of people I know entered film to be writer/directors (everyone wants to be a director) but over time end up doing some production work and that’s all they ever do. They eventually end up making decent wages though. Watch out for my film – Vishkanya coming soon to an adult video store near you!

  9. Great, so your kid can disappoint you when he/she becomes a doctor, like I did. My dad wanted me to be a writer.

    shiksa, we’re big disappointments! My Mum tried very hard to guide me away from medicine. But having said that, I don’t want my kids to be doctors.

    The last dozen comments or so are very interesting. I also get frustrated when people think that a desi becoming a doctor is just a lack of imagination on their part, you phrased it very well desishiksa. I know you didn’t mean offence Cinnamon Rani and none was taken, but it’s an opinion I hear a lot. Another is the assumption that if you are brown and you do medicine, you were pushed into it by your parents.

    I’d rather not go into details here, but sometimes there are other reasons for choosing a stable career. Had I been a millionaire, sure I would’ve been a director instead. But hopefully I can give my children that option when the time comes. Most of my friends and family are not doctors. The ones doing jobs I don’t like (finance etc) are having a great time and raking it in. The ones doing jobs I wanted to do (journalism, music, film) are struggling.

    And, once again, we can refer back to GGM:

    “Dad, I really want to be a doctor” “No no beta, nobody wants to do that anymore, you want to be a popstar!”

  10. We should just ask ourselves one question. What would you do if you had a million dollars and didn’t have to work anymore? And the answer you come up with is supposed to be your career.

    Personally i would invest half of the money in low risk mutual funds and then take the other half over to my friend Asadulah who works in securities…

  11. What would you do if you had a million dollars and didn’t have to work anymore?

    I would still do this if I won 20 million dollars. But maybe just part-time.

    The ones doing jobs I wanted to do (journalism, music, film) are struggling.

    Hopefully you can follow in the path of people like Sanjay Gupta or Atul Gawande and do both without struggling :) (not mocking you, I really mean it) This is really what I wanted to do. My parents foolishly raised me to not worry about how much money I was going to make (and I certainly didn’t grow up with extra cash floating around) but I’m grateful every day that I get to do the job I like and will eventually make a good living doing it. I just wanted to throw that out there because a lot of people have voiced support for choosing a career with financial stability in mind. But I do understand why people make career decisions with financial security in mind–I think you can be a good doctor and even enjoy your job without feeling like it was your vocation.