A Kind of Madness March 3,
2013

By  Leonard
Zwelling, MD, MBA

In her column in the
Wall Street Journal on March 2, Peggy Noonan described a White House that has
grown more and more out of touch with reality. She accuses the Obama
Administration of overreaching, imperiousness and being overly full of itself. She
notes the fact that the President has refused to take the first step on
resolving the impasse caused by the sequester, a problem of his own making, and
show some magnanimity to Congress. Instead he is taking his argument to the
people or to knowingly easy interviews in very controlled media environments.
This is not to defend the Congress whose members have acted like spoiled
children for years now. But Mr. Obama taking on Bob Woodward is a clear
indication that his hubris is showing. He’s reading his own PR as a political
rock star. My suspicions are that he also gets the encouragement of those
around him which can be devastatingly costly for a leader, particularly one
with few friends among the group with which he has to strike a deal, Congress.

Let’s see if there are
parallels in Houston.

Is the president of MD
Anderson espousing a belief that the institution is on the right track and that
those begging for some slowdown in spending are wrong?  Yes.

Is the president of MD
Anderson showing any conciliation to the faculty with whom he must deal and whose
members actually produce the meaningful MD Anderson products of clinical care
and research? No and certainly he is showing no respect to their elected
representatives in the Faculty Senate. I know from experience that the Senate
is held in low esteem by those closest to the Anderson president

Is the president of MD
Anderson focused on a different constituency than the faculty like donors,
Regents, Board of Visitors members and anyone else who will gather for a talk
on the Moon Shots and write him a check? Yes.

Is the president of MD
Anderson willing to take on a high profile writer? Yes (that would be me-but I
am no Bob Woodward- who was called into his office to listen to a 20 minute
lecture engendered by the leak to the Cancer Letter which he must have thought
was my doing.  It was not).

Is the wife of the
president of MD Anderson involved with things that would probably be best left
to others (e.g., programs reporting to her husband—is this like Mrs. Obama and
her Oscar appearance, things that don’t go together)?
Yes.

Finally, did the
president of MD Anderson insist on gaining a waiver to the conflict of interest
rules that govern the conduct of the rest of the faculty? Yes. Here’s what Bob
Woodward is quoted as having said by Ms. Noonan:

“So we now have a
president going out (saying) ‘Because of this piece of paper and this
agreement, I can’t do what I need to do’…That’s a kind of madness that I
haven’t seen in a long time”.

Welcome to Potomac on
the Bayou!

Leonard Zwelling