The Donald and The Ronald: Compare And Contrast

The Donald and The Ronald: Compare And Contrast


Leonard Zwelling

         Many of my friends are in mourning over the results of the election on November 8. For a number of reasons, they shouldn’t be.

         First, give the guy a chance. Neither of the major players comported himself or herself with honor both before the campaign in their previous lives or once the game was afoot. Neither is particularly likable. Both have made a lot of money in ways that many might call into question (bankruptcy vs. Wall Street speaking engagements).

Nonetheless, President-elect Donald Trump deserves our respect and our patience. He also deserves to be opposed on many of his policies, but not because of what he said. Let’s see what he does. If he appoints Rudy Giuliani as Attorney General or Newt Gingrich to lead the Department of State, I too will be disappointed. He needs more rational people than these.

         Second, Mr. Trump won fair and square. Everyone in the media was aghast that he wouldn’t accept the result of a Clinton victory. Well, who are the sore losers now? Those protesters are quite free to complain, but I would bet if the loser had been Trump, there would have been protests as well, and the media would be in a frenzy calling them names.

         Third, this is the greatest democracy in the history of the world. We can handle this. We handled Nixon and we handled Reagan and even Carter in between. We can survive this.

         Many of my friends are also in mourning about the state of affairs at MD Anderson, This can be squarely set at the feet of Dr. DePinho. He was also selected by an established process, but not a democratic one. He was anointed by those in Austin who have only the slightest of notions about what MD Anderson does and how hard it is to do it. Without a real board with local fiduciary oversight, MD Anderson was poised to run into trouble as it overbuilt and over hired.

         In short, The Donald will be president due to his winning a fair election. Sure, more than half of those voting wanted someone else and he is the fifth man to be elected after losing the popular vote (John Quincy Adams, Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush), but the popular vote is not how we choose a leader in the United States. The Electoral College prevails and Trump had the better strategy to win that contest. He won many key states by slim margins, but win them he did. This is to be respected. He saw, as Paul Ryan noted, what others did not and spoke to the disenfranchised in a manner not seen since Ronald Regan mobilized the Reagan Democrats.

         The Ronald (DePinho not Reagan) is a leader with a whole lot of legitimacy and now a five-year track record of red budgets, many fired leaders, conflict of interest, self-dealing and nepotism. If he had been chosen by the faculty to lead them despite these flaws as The Donald was chosen despite his, I would be fine with The Ronald at the helm of the so far still best cancer center. Alas, this is not how the system works.

         I am one who actually likes the Electoral College for its preservation of states rights and regional differences. I would be OK with the popular vote, but the fact that Mr. Trump could win many states that had gone for Obama last time, suggests that he tapped into a vein of American gold and angst and he deserves a chance to fix the problems he was elected to fix. And he deserves our support in his efforts. As Lyndon Johnson said, “he’s the only president we got.”

Dr. DePinho by contrast has been an absentee landlord of late as the financial crisis worsens and he is nowhere to be seen beyond the gala and the tent. Well, of course, he was there. Thirteen million dollars came in. That’s Ron’s sweet spot. Money.

It’s The Donald’s, too, but I believe, or at least want to, that Mr. Trump will set aside his private corporate interests and concentrate on trying to improve the country. Events have a way of calling for the best or eliciting the worst in leaders. Let’s give him a chance.

As for The Ronald, I have seen enough. That Chancellor McRaven has not may be altered if MD Anderson goes deeper into the red. I have now had more than one faculty member tell me that the demands to close out medical records in EPIC contrasts with the demands to keep Press Ganey patient satisfaction scores high. To finish a chart takes time. To satisfy patients, you shorten their waits. These two things don’t go together.

We have taken a chance as a country. We were willing to try something new so as to jettison the old.

The faculty of MD Anderson was not given that choice with the new president or the new electronic medical record. Don’t expect them to be happy about it even if they don’t protest on Holcombe.  Yet.

2 thoughts on “The Donald and The Ronald: Compare And Contrast”

  1. Likely everyone reading this is NOT in the situation of the average American- 5 mortgage payments away from losing your house, $1000 at most to fund an emergency. Being in a smaller city with community hospitals, I see this. Throw a diagnosis of advanced cancer on top of this, and the party (translation: nightmare) starts for real.
    The Protected versus The Unprotected. Keep your eye on that narrative, it's the only real "issue". And strolling through a community ER, wow, it's – pardon the expression – huge.

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