You Did Your Job. Now Step Aside.


You Did Your Job. Now Step Aside.


Leonard Zwelling

My former boss Dr. Margaret Kripke used to say that it was important to leave the party while you were still having fun. And she did just that in 2007 when she stepped down as Chief Academic Officer at MD Anderson following great success in the job. She was still an effective administrator and research leader, but she had other things to attend to in her life. And she did. And she still does.

Donald Trump had a few jobs to do when he became President. The very first was to prevent Hillary Clinton from getting the job. He did that despite losing the popular vote in 2016 by culling together small majorities in key battleground states. Mrs. Clinton was far more qualified to be President than was Mr. Trump, but she was despised by a large number of Americans. She was smart, but she wasn’t loved. Mr. Trump is not smart, but his followers loved him. Do they still?

As Bret Stephens points out in this op-ed from November 16 in The New York Times, Mr. Trump is being left behind. Most of his endorsed candidates up and down the GOP ballot lost, some managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory. The right-wing media is moving past him to other more viable Trumpists like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. Interestingly, non-Trumpist Republicans like Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, Brian Kemp in Georgia, and Mike DeWine in Ohio did very well on Election Day. Finally, Trump attacked the most successful Republican candidate—Mr. DeSantis. How smart is that?

If Trump was to do anything in 2016, it was to give voice to a nationalist minority on the right, fight illegal immigration, and negate the autocracy of the academic elite and the mainstream media. If that was his job, he did it. Now move along. In 2020 Americans thought so, too.

Similarly, Joe Biden had only one job in 2020—get rid of Trump. He did it. He did not receive a mandate to impose progressive policies on the country. All he had to do was pass the infrastructure bill, steer us through Covid, part two, and then move along. He hasn’t quite figured that out yet, I’m afraid.

Dr. Pisters also had only one job—not be Ron DePinho. When I had dinner with Dr. Pisters, I offered that he couldn’t do worse than his predecessor. I was wrong (I’m wrong a lot lately). Pisters has no plan to advance MD Anderson’s fight against the ravages of malignant disease or build a greater research apparatus for the cancer center. Instead, he is focused on woke nonsense and professionalism as the key indicators of MD Anderson’s success along with pumping up MD Anderson’s ratings with outside agencies. He, like Trump and Biden, needs to move along.

Trump’s failures in handling the pandemic and his repeated impeachments set the stage for Biden’s win. In turn, Biden’s win got rid of Trump, but did not augur for a bright American future although Biden has managed foreign affairs in Ukraine well (but, not the Afghanistan exit) and did not get shellacked in the 2022 election as Mr. Obama did in 2010. Nonetheless, he is 80 and looks it. It’s time for him to step aside, too.

Dr. Pisters transitioned MD Anderson from Tsar DePinho, only to become Peter the Great II. How useful was that? He too needs to declare victory and move along.

Trump, Biden, and Pisters all needed to leave the party whether they were having fun or not—for the good of their institutions. Knowing when to walk away (or run) is an important skill set that none of these men seems to have. How unfortunate!


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