Leonard Zwelling

One needs go no further than this shameful video of a recent Trump Cabinet meeting to comprehend the trouble the United States finds itself in under this president. Mr. Trump goes around the room extracting praise from all of his surrogates in the various departments of the executive branch of the federal government. What is worse is that he could do it with the Republican caucuses of the House and Senate as well. What’s even worse is that the Democrats’ protests would all sound like whining because they loudly tell us what they are against, but have no ideas about what they are for. It all reminds me of MD Anderson a few short months ago—a narcissistic leader surrounded by incompetent collaborators.

One has to assume that the passing of DePinho is a net good thing for Anderson, but he has not yet been replaced, of course, and many of his sycophants remain in their positions of leadership in the administration and atop various academic departments and divisions. I guess the good news is that the Anderson problem MAY get fixed in the coming months if a new leader is found and he or she replaces those DePinho apologists with real leaders of serious accomplishment and stellar vision. The faculty had better hope that is the case for there is much healing needed at 1515 Holcombe and a real redirection of energy and resources will be required if MD Anderson is to be restored to its prior prominence in the Texas Medical Center and the world.

What troubles me is that the system that spit out Ron DePinho as the only finalist for the presidency of Anderson in 2011 is the same one in effect today. The Chancellor is seriously wounded because his political aplomb did not equal his skill as a military leader. The Executive Vice Chancellor appears to be leading the search for the new president of Anderson. Let’s hope he does better than did his predecessor. And most concerning, the ultimate decision about the Anderson presidency is still in the hands of the politically appointed Regents most of whom know next to nothing about medicine or cancer. This does not bode well for the future of MD Anderson, but there is always hope for a miracle.

Let’s hope whomever the Regents choose to lead Anderson next does not follow the example set at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. We do not need a leader who requires fealty and loyalty of those working for him or her, but rather competence and energy as well as vision and will. Sure the next president must set the tone, and he or she should expect his hires to stay on script, but so much that is done in the Anderson president’s name is done by those working for him or her that picking those people is as critical as any strategic decision that president will have to make.

Obviously, Mr. Trump needs those working for him to bow down in public and pledge allegiance to his screwy agenda that is more likely to be revealed in 140 characters than in a meaningful piece of legislation. Mr. Ryan wants to apologize for the grown man-child in the White House saying he just needs a little seasoning. So does Mr. Ryan. That’s not an option for the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House or the president of MD Anderson. The incumbent needs to be ready on day one and needs to have his team in place on day two. And that team needs to be more NY Yankees or Golden State Warriors than a bunch of mealy-mouthed sycophants voicing platitudes for the boss as he preens in 140-character bites.

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