The Pope, The Donald, The Neurosurgeon and The Ronald Walk Into a Bar

The Pope, The Donald, The
Neurosurgeon and The Ronald Walk Into a Bar


Leonard Zwelling

         You know this one is pure fiction.

         Wouldn’t it be great if the latter three could spend a few
moments over some wine with Pope Francis who is reminding us all what being a
leader is all about. It was said that his speech before the joint meeting of
Congress was his longest sustained use of English ever. I can assure you I
would not have the courage to use my high school French at the Sorbonne. As an
American Jew I am so impressed that this man of the Catholic Church has so
affected the country and the world with his message of humanity, humility and
personal responsibility. This is clearly a great man who states his principles
and then is more than willing to discuss where your principles and his differ.
In this way, he reminds me of a Lubovitcher rabbi who, while only reaching out
to other Jews, seeks to meet them where their Judaism is at the time, not where
the rabbi’s is. He is not converting. He is enlightening. So it is with the

         This is most surely not the case with the other three listed
in the title.

         Forget about his offensive manner of dealing with others
which when he is called out he attributes to good fun. Donald Trump is a blow
hard and a bully with absolutely no political skills for the media age unless
he is the center of the media. When he is not, as when Carly Fiorina called him
to task on his sexist remarks about her, he looks like the little boy with his
hand in the cookie jar. Donald Trump is a fraud and my guess is that the
American people will see through the bluster to find that there is no there
there and move on, grateful for his challenge to the establishment, but
unwilling to place the nuclear arsenal in his hands.

         Ben Carson is simply an embarrassment to all of medicine. He
is living proof that being good at one thing—neurosurgery—does not make you
good at anything else, like logic. That he would question evolution, constantly
fall back on his religion, and undermine the fabric of the Constitution by
having a religious litmus test for service to the country is preposterous. Who
knew that the most critical split brain surgery he did was on himself?

         Finally, there is the Ronald who at last has found something
he is afraid of. The US Navy SEALS. I believe the silence you hear from Dr.
DePinho of late is his realization that his Trump-like bluster and bullying will
no longer be tolerated by his supervisor in Austin.  Furthermore, Admiral McRaven expects true shared
governance or, by George, there will be a change at the top of Pickens.

         In fact, the man of war who now heads UT and the man of
peace who heads the Vatican sound like they just might get along just fine
setting stellar examples of integrity and principle and leading others to do their
best or get out of the way. Both men appear to be active and dedicated stewards
of the worlds they have inherited. The Pope believes in climate change and had
no problem entering the den that is the US Congress and making a speech that
only Bob Casey, the pro-Life Democratic Senator from Pennsylvania, could
probably agree with all of. The Chancellor believes in adult behavior from his
Presidents and a dedication to patient care and education on the medical
campuses. I have yet to hear the Chancellor mention “commercialization” as an
important goal of the UT System.

         I don’t think those 4 guys in the title would ever be in a
bar together, but if they were they may need an adjudicator like the Chancellor
to keep the peace. Then again, just being in the presence of the Pope might get
The Donald, The Ronald, and the Neurosurgeon to speak and act like adults. If
the Pope could do that, he may not need the SEALS. Since we won’t get the
Ronald in the bar with the Pope, we may need the Admiral to get us to that
distant shore that is shared governance and the true mission of MD Anderson.

3 thoughts on “The Pope, The Donald, The Neurosurgeon and The Ronald Walk Into a Bar”

  1. Shared governance is measured by the capacity of the faculty to affect outcomes. So far I see no such evidence at MDACC. de Pinho might not be as obvious a presence as in the past, but the commercialization of the institution appears to be on course. I expect Lynda Chin to reappear in Houston any day now. I hope I am wrong.

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