Magic Sells: Donald,
Bernie and Ron (They Are Not Abraham, Martin and John)

By

Leonard Zwelling

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/sanders-and-trump-magic-sells/2016/02/11/bc5e4df6-d0e8-11e5-b2bc-988409ee911b_story.html

         In a particularly insightful op-ed in The Washington Post (sent to me by a blog reader, thank you),
conservative paragon Charles Krauthammer makes the point that along with
popularism, there is a certain strain of anti-Obamaism to BOTH The Donald and The Bern
campaigns. It is not surprising that the GOP candidates (if that’s what Trump
is) are railing against the Obama Administration, but so is one of the
candidates seeking the Democratic nomination. That’s a little unexpected, but
perhaps it shouldn’t be. The message is really quite simple.

         Look at this mess the next President will inherit from Obama.
We need to do something radical, revolutionary and YUJE. That could be electing
a socialist independent old guy or it could be electing a crass, loudmouthed non-politician
New York real estate developer. Either way, the change would be YuJe all right.
The question is, would it be good?

         As Krauthammer points out the legacy of socialism across the
20th century is not one of prosperity in all cases although
Scandinavia seems to be doing well. For the most part, nationalization of
certain primary functions of society might not turn out well at all, particularly
in America. It might. Medicare isn’t all that bad, but many other aspects of the
current federal government are dysfunctional—like our elections. (Why should
Iowa and New Hampshire decide who runs in the Big Show?)

         The Trump plan of exclusionary American Exceptionalism is
equally fraught with danger. If his temperament has its finger on the nuclear
football, that is really scary! American Exceptionalism implies that we have
nothing to learn from the rest of the world which is silly. In health care delivery
and the various ways to pay for it, there must be some model out there better
than the nonsense we have now.

         This issue of where we are, where we go from here, and whether
trying just anything is a good strategy comes to mind when one considers the
cancer community of the free world as well.

         Where are we?

         No one can doubt that significant progress has been made in
the detection, prevention and treatment of malignant disease since the Second
World War. Screening tests are better and clearly have saved lives,
particularly from the ravages of breast and colon cancer. Imaging is a marvel
and definitely aids in the treatment of cancer patients and new forms of
surgery and radiotherapy are both more effective and less debilitating. Even
some systemic cancers have been “cured” with drugs making survivorship a
sub-specialty that could not have existed in the 1950s. Yet…

         Where do we go from here?

The
War on Cancer began over 44 years ago and is still a work in progress. Even if
we cured all cancer tomorrow, the average lifespan of an American would only
increase 3.5 years as we all fall victim to something, usually our life style
choices. Considering our utility to the Universe was met the moment we stopped
having children, this should not be a surprising part of God’s plan. Most
cancer victims have had their children already.

         But we persist in spending tremendous sums to eradicate
cancer from the face of the Earth as if it were analogous to small pox, which
it clearly is not. Who is selling this vision of a cancer-free world? The
cancer community is.

         There is not enough money to satiate the desires of those
willing to spend and do anything in the name of curing cancer when it is in
reality self-aggrandizement. We should not be surprised. Just as Bernie and The
Donald are selling Utopian visions of either the Age of Aquarius or American
Exceptionalism, the DePinhos of the world are saying give me all your money and
I will make you safe from cancer.

         No you won’t, and we should walk away or walk many different
ways because the proper course to a major impact on cancer survival is not at
all obvious, although there are many contenders. DePinho and the others certain
of themselves are just more train wrecks like the sweet talking junior senator
from Illinois was in 2008. I don’t like Hillary, but at least she’s grounded.
Wrapping herself around the current President is foolish and it could cost her
the election, but probably not the nomination. On the GOP side only Kasich
makes any sense at all. The rest, to be blunt, are pandering to the worst
elements in the country, big money and uninformed scared people wishing for an America that never was.

         We in medicine are supposed to be both logical and
cool-headed. We need to speak up against those promising the moon if we deliver
them the green cheese of cash. It ain’t going to happen that way. It takes
work, time, insight and luck. Getting to the moon is neither rocket science nor
magic.

Leonard Zwelling