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Fear of physicians
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The last time I visited a doctor, about a month ago, I fell off the scale in his office and broke a rib. It was 9 o'clock in the morning, and I had consumed only one cup of coffee.

I can tell a dozen stories like that - brushes with bad luck when I put my destiny in the hands of MDs.

Perhaps that fear of physicians runs over into my political reportage. When I look at the enrollment of Georgia's congressional delegation, I do not see Democrats and Republicans. I see three medical doctors and a bunch of other guys.

The three physicians - Tom Price, Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun - were high achievers when they practiced medicine. As congressmen, they have proven to be strikeouts.

They're all very conservative, of course - so conservative, in fact, that I feel as if I have fallen down a rabbit hole whenever I read one of their speeches.

Now if this threesome were ordinary lawmakers - like, say, my good friend state Rep. Ed Seltzer of Acworth, who may believe the Earth is flat - I wouldn't think twice about them. What else would you expect from an environmental engineer who went to Wake Forest?

However, Price, Gingrey and Broun are erudite persons of gravitas, men who early in their lives chose the noble profession of healing mankind.

Before he was lured into politics, Dr. Price was a well-known orthopedist who did knee replacements and things like that. I once consulted him briefly about my left knee, which has gone awry for a second time. He advised me to see another doctor, because he was planning to run for Congress.

Dr. Gingrey is perhaps one of the most famous obstetricians in the Western hemisphere. He had a sterling reputation as the successful deliverer of thousands upon thousands of babies. Even in Congress, he has shown flashes of brilliance. When he suggested Rush Limbaugh should not have wished failure upon President Obama, that seemed a reasonable position, one that most of us held. If Obama flops, the rest of us may also go down the tubes. Alas, Gingrey's ray of sunshine lasted only a moment in the hectic news cycle. The day I fell off the scale, Dr. Gingrey appeared as a special guest on Limbaugh's radio show to tell Rush how great and wonderful he was.

Dr. Broun is not only a well-known healer; he also is the son of the late state Sen. Paul Broun of Athens, one of the few truly great men in the history of the Georgia General Assembly. In addition to being an all-star senator, Broun senior was among the first politicians to predict early that Jimmy Carter was White House-bound. Sen. Broun was UGA's main man in the Legislature for years. Oh, that Dr. Broun would follow in his dad's footsteps. Perhaps he will one day. First, of course, he must give up his position as vice chair of the fruitcake caucus.

I respect these fellows and even personally like them. As Republicans, however, they don't have much clout in D.C., and that's not a development that occurred with the change in administrations. They were rubber stamps of President George Bush's agenda during his eight years in the White House. More than half the military bases in Georgia were closed during Bush's reign. Loyalty to Bush didn't always pay off, but the three docs didn't know that until it was too late.

Now, the triage trio have established themselves on TV as firm enemies of Barack Obama. Their public attacks on the president may have contributed to the loss of the big F-22 jet-fighter contract and possibly 2,000 jobs at Lockheed-Marietta. Don't look for any exceptional favors for Georgia while Obama is president and the three medics are House members.

While my rib is healing, I have looked several times at photos of Drs. Price, Broun and Gingrey and thought:

"Here are three truly qualified experts in their respective fields who are playing out of position. They had splendid reputations in medicine and seem to understand the ins and outs of the federal health-care plans floating around Congress. But they never seem to move up in the ranks of heavy hitters in the House. Maybe they aren't cut out for politics. Maybe they ought to consider coming home and doing what they do best: help folks get well or have babies. Just think, the world might be a better place if the three doctors were practicing medicine in Georgia instead of playing politics in Washington."

You can reach Bill Shipp at P.O. Box 2520, Kennesaw, GA 30156, e-mail:, or Web address: