When The Leader Is The Message

By

Leonard Zwelling

Donald Trump is really stuck now.

After running a hate-filled campaign that appealed to the basest of American instincts and successfully parlaying racist and white superiority rhetoric into an election victory, he cannot now espouse a message of tolerance. And, even if he could, he won’t. He still equates neo-Nazis with peaceful demonstrators on the left. He still cannot see that when the people he defends are chanting anti-Semitic slogans and slandering his own daughter, that he gave birth to that mayhem.

You want to talk about a birther movement. Trump gave birth to the re-ignition of white nationalism and he cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube he squeezed.

People at MD Anderson should not be surprised when a man who was once a leader morphs into a symbol of bad impressions and poor decision-making.

Ron DePinho was selected by the Board of Regents to be the MD Anderson president presumably to boost the income of MD Anderson through the commercialization of the drugs he was to discover with his advanced insight into science. His insight was no more real than Trump’s victory in the popular vote.

Both Trump and DePinho revealed their true selves early on and could have been stopped before doing untold damage.

That the Republican Party allowed a man as crass and impolitic as Donald Trump to be its standard bearer is breathless in its foolishness. That Ken Shine could have allowed the self-dealing, nepotism and conflicts of interest embodied by Ron DePinho to guide the nation’s number one place for cancer care was also over the top.

But DePinho is in the past and hopefully the Regents will make a better selection this time, but I am not confident because I am not at all sure the Regents understand what MD Anderson is. It is not, as one of our surgeons once noted, an ATM machine. It is first and foremost a place of compassionate care for those with the most serious of illnesses. It is also an academic institution of research and education. It is, lest anyone forget, A NON-PROFIT. It’s not supposed to be a big money maker and if it does make money, that money should be going back to the mission of the institution not the salaries of the administrators of whom there are far too many being paid far too much.

In the cases of Trump and DePinho, we have seen what happens when the leader transcends his job to become a symbol of intolerance on one hand and unethical behavior on the other. This time, let’s hope the Regents pick a man or woman who is just a human being and not a symbol.

But if he or she becomes a symbol, let it be one for good.

Leonard Zwelling