Be Careful Who You Choose

Be Careful Who You Choose


Leonard Zwelling

Gail Collins continues to wonder who the worst member of the Trump Cabinet is.

Dr. Tom Price, an orthopedic surgeon and former House member from Georgia who headed HHS until his resignation Friday, was climbing up the worst list. Dr. Price is accused of having used about $400,000 in government money (although it may turn out to be $1M) to secure the services of private jets for his air travel. Some of the travel was not for the government and even some of the travel that was could have been purchased for a whole lot less taxpayer money by using commercial carriers.

Dr. Price, who I perceive to be a right wing zealot on most social issues and who could keep a straight face extolling the virtues of the Republican alternatives to ObamaCare as being good for ordinary Americans, got his just rewards as President Trump was not happy with him. Of course, which of Mr. Trump’s appointees is he happy with? Steve Mnuchin, another private plane lover? Betsy DuVos, who wants to privatize public education? Or the still clueless, but out of sight Dr. Ben Carson, who is at least making no waves at HUD? No impact, either.

These guys and gals are awful! They rank right up there with the White House staff of Bannon, Kushner, Ivanka and Reince. My only regret is that Melissa McCarthy won’t be able to imitate Sean Spicer any more because he’s now imitating himself on the Emmys.

The take home lesson here for all chief executives is that it is very important who you choose to place in your inner circle. Trump picked embarrassing people who he is now surprised embarrass him. Who’s the fool?

I, for one, was impressed that Dr. Peter Pisters, unlike his surgical compatriots in Trump’s cabinet, is no fool. He is a thoughtful, respectful and accomplished guy who, I believe, has the potential to be a great leader for MD Anderson—surely the best since Dr. LeMaistre. He will need help, especially in areas with which he is not familiar, like lab-based and population-based sciences.

As he “rewrites the source code of the organization,” Dr. Pisters needs to surround himself with trustworthy competent people who can respectfully speak freely to him, yet carry out his decisions, even if they disagree with them.

Those people can be hard to find sometimes, but I think Dr. Pisters can do it. For along with being the anti-The Ronald, he’s the anti-The Donald, too.

One of the best ways to do this is to clear the decks and I don’t mean firing anyone.

Dr. Pisters needs to make his own org chart, much as Dr. Mendelsohn wisely did. He should then fill the boxes on that org chart with the absolute best people he can find whether from inside or outside MD Anderson.

I think that if he starts with a clean sheet of paper, he is likely to get the best results fastest and avoid the mistakes that President Trump had having to fill an org chart over which he had no discretion.

What do you think? I would really like to know.

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