The Hurt Feelings of the
CMO

By

Leonard Zwelling

Important dialogue from the Godfather:

Kay Adams: Michael, you never told me you knew Johnny Fontane!

Michael: Sure, you want to meet him?

Kay Adams: Well, yeah! Sure.

Michael: My father helped him with his career.

Kay Adams: How did he do that?

Michael: …Let’s listen to the song.

Kay Adams: [after listening to Johnny for a while] Tell me,
Michael. Please.

Michael: Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to a
personal services contract with this big-band leader. And as his career got
better and better, he wanted to get out of it. But the bandleader wouldn’t let
him. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. So my father went to see this bandleader
and offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go, but the bandleader said no. So the
next day, my father went back, only this time with Luca Brasi. Within an hour,
he had a signed release for a certified check of $1000.

Kay Adams: How did he do that?

Michael: My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Kay Adams: What was that?

Michael: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him
that either his brains or his signature would be on the contract.

       Recently,
the CMO played a role similar to the one played by Luca Brasi in Michael’s
story. He held an administrative gun to my wife’s head and said that either she resign or she
would be removed from her position as Division Head. No reasons were given and
still haven’t been, but the decision had to be made on the spot.

       But,
Dr. Buchholz admitted that “this is hard for me, especially with you,” speaking
to Genie.

       First,
like anyone cares if this is hard for him. It’s the job he took and like Super
Chicken, he knew the job was dangerous when he took it. Or should have.

       Second,
if firing someone is hard for him he is not suited for his job, which we know
to be true.

       Third,
this has nothing to do with feelings, “this,” as Hyman Roth might say, “is
business.”

       Now
for gangsters to behave like this is not all that surprising. For doctors to do
so, particularly at MD Anderson, used to be unusual, but this has become the
rule of late. (See Raph Pollock as Genie and Tom Burke as Luca Brasi in a
previous episode of the God Doctor.)

       This
behavior by the CMO is both egregious and not surprising given his complete
absence of experience commensurate with this position and clear inability to
communicate effectively with his boss if he really “felt” this was hard and,
thus, presumably, unfair and unprofessional behavior he was being asked to do
on Dr. DePinho’s behalf. He could have proposed a more humane way of getting to
the same place. It seems Dr. Buchholz is lacking some critical body parts like
a spine, a brain and perhaps gonads as well.

       It
is most difficult to reconcile his performance last Monday with his
interminable and sappy Friday missives that he emails to the faculty. I am
quite sure the definition of the shortest measurable time quantum has been
redefined as that time period spanning his pressing the Send button on these
weekly emails and the faculty members pressing their collective Delete buttons.

       I
expected nothing more from Dr. DePinho with regard to Dr. Kleinerman’s
dismissal. He’s got to be in control and with a woman in the room whose anger
he might have to deal with, he is not in his comfort zone. If nothing else, Ron
likes to stay in his comfort zone with himself firmly in its center.

       The
Provost is so lightweight he is barely tethered by gravity so I expected
nothing from him. My few interactions and one dinner have been strikingly
disappointing and frankly I cannot believe he got the job. He is so lightweight
I am surprised he doesn’t sound like a Heliumized Donald Duck when he talks.

       I
have known Tom Buchholz for many years. I appointed him a Vice Chair of the
IRB. I also came to visit him at his home after his bike accident of a few
years back. He always seemed to me to have a well-placed sense of fair play and
integrity. It appears I misjudged him then or he has changed recently for his
behavior toward this task was reprehensible.

       Poor
Tom. His feelings were challenged in doing his job. Well, for goodness sake.
Look who you are working for.

       Shortly
after Tom became Acting Provost upon the departure of Ray DuBois I visited him
in his office. He asked me what I would like to see happen. I told him that I
thought it would be best if the SOB down the hall went back to Boston and left
us alone. He thanked me for my candor. It was not about candor. It was a
warning to someone I thought was my friend. I now know better. He’s not my
friend and he didn’t get the message.

       My
father-in-law, the late great pulmonary and research pathologist Jerome Kleinerman,
who was chair of Pathology at three different academic hospitals including Mt.
Sinai in New York, always taught both Genie and me that when keeping the job
becomes more important than doing it well or doing the right thing, you will
become ineffective. That is still sage advice.

It’s not too
late Dr. Buchholz. Grow up! Do the right thing no matter what you are ordered
to do. HOW you do it matters as much as THAT you do it! It was YOU who were not
in your comfort zone last Monday. Only YOUR behavior counted.

You are not a
nice guy despite what you constantly telling yourself and trying to convince
anyone else who will listen. In that category, you get an F.

You may be a
good boy. But you are not a nice MAN.

Leonard Zwelling