Alex Shephard at The New Republic has a great recap posted about the comedy of errors that has been the U.S. Senate campaign of Dr. Oz.
Dr. Oz should be better at this. Sure, there was always something oleaginous about the daytime television doctor turned politician’s approach to medicine, in which “magical” pills were touted as miracle cures to problems like obesity and bad skin. But Oz was a daytime television fixture in large part because he had a penchant for selling quick fixes to complex, sometimes intractable problems. Worried about your weight? Just take this pill and watch the pounds fall away. He was a huckster, but he was also telegenic and seemingly down-to-earth. In an era that elevated another TV conman to the highest political heights—and in a political moment in which Republicans have seemed heading toward a wave election—why couldn’t Mehmet Oz be Pennsylvania’s next senator?
In the months since Oz won Donald Trump’s endorsement—which propelled him to victory in a competitive primary—very little has gone according to plan. In late July, Politico reported that “the National Republican Senatorial Committee raised concerns about Oz’s lackluster polling and fundraising on at least three separate occasions in recent weeks,” with one source noting that his high unfavorable numbers were “really freaking everybody out.” From April to the start of July, his Democratic opponent, Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, raised nearly nine times more money than Oz managed—and half of the $3.8 million Oz brought in was money he loaned his own campaign.
But the biggest problem with Oz’s candidacy is that he is an utter phony with a comical inability to conceal this fact from the public view. And this is surprising since hiding his obvious insincerity has hitherto been an important part of his skill set. Yes, Oz is an actual medical doctor—a cardiothoracic surgeon, at that. But his TV persona has always had a loose relationship with actual medicine. He has pushed quack pills and salves for years and been called out for it repeatedly; pressed by NBC News about criticisms he’s received he pointed out that his namesake television show was “not a medical show” and observed that in its logo the word “Dr.” was much smaller than “Oz.”
I’m as much a Pennsylvanian as Dr. Oz, and I’ve only been there once to cover the Republican National Convention in 2000 in Philadelphia. Which was surreal enough on its own.