“You’re Fired”

“You’re Fired”


Leonard Zwelling

How often have I heard those words?

Three times actually.

In high school I had a night job as a stock boy at Fortunoff’s a large retailer on Long Island. I also was a prominent member of my senior class and I had very strong tugs on my time in both directions. A few too many times I chose the school. Bad news. Fortunoff’s management wasn’t amused.

“You’re fired.”

In 2007, Dan Fontaine fired me as a vice president. Ray DuBois, sitting beside Dan as he did the deed, had arrived to take the place of my former boss Dr. Kripke. Ray had his own people he wanted to bring in to run research administration. I was out. Of course, one thing led to another and 13 months later I was in Washington, DC having the time of my adult life learning about how the government operates. I think Dan did me a favor, but like that day in 1966 when I was fired as a stock boy, it didn’t feel very good to hear…

“You’re fired.”

Flash forward to 2014. After six months as the acting Chief Medical Officer at Legacy Community Health, a federally-qualified health clinic downtown, I had gotten so sick of the assembly line fashion with which they treated the patients and the doctors in their business model of high volume health care provision that I had reached loggerheads with the CEO, a non-medical politician, and the COO, a nurse. The CEO and CFO, an Enron felon, fired me and they should have. My philosophy of patient care was inconsistent with the one espoused by the leadership of Legacy and it was wise for us to part ways. I should have quit. In fact I should have quit all three times, but I was too stubborn, too proud, and too arrogant to just let go.

This brings me to James Comey, the erstwhile Director of the FBI to whom the Great Dismisser of TV fame said on Tuesday:

“You’re fired.”

There can be little doubt that the president acted correctly in discharging the FBI Director, but he waited far too long. If, as is stated, it was the July 2016 release of the information about the Clinton email investigation having shown no need to prosecute that caused the firing, why not fire Comey on January 20, 2017?

If, as is likely the case, this was really about Comey’s convoluted logic surrounding his October 2016 decisions to reopen the Clinton email investigation in public and then misstate the details in front of the Senate, well say so and send him packing.

But what if President Trump was feeling the hot breath of James Comey on his neck over Michael Flynn and the Russian connection? What better way to interrupt that process than fire the guy in charge and do what Donald Trump does best—create political chaos?

My guess is that this will bring on the calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the Russian connection to the Trump Administration. This has now risen far above the ability of the Trump Department of Justice or the hopelessly partisan Congress to scour all records and all calls and all emails regarding the members of the Trump campaign and the Trump White House and the Russians. But I doubt the current Assistant Attorney General will appoint a special prosecutor—yet.

It’s very possible that when the dust settles it will be Congress who says to Mr. Trump:

“You’re fired,” by impeaching him, particularly if the Democrats can regain the House in 2018, which is not impossible.

You heard it here first.

And by the way, if those two words are so easy to say, as appears to be the case, why couldn’t the Chancellor say them on his first day?

I was impressed that none of the people who said, “you’re fired” to me ever struggled with their words. Nor should they have.

Losing a job is part of life and can often be both clarifying and appropriate.

It was three times for me. It was for James Comey. It may well be for Donald Trump and was certainly so for Ron DePinho.


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