Do More Than Wince At Leadership

Do More Than Wince At Leadership


Leonard Zwelling

Peggy Noonan does it again in her column in The Wall Street Journal on April 29.

“Look at the people’s faces when you say, ‘Looks like it’ll be Biden and Trump.’ Those faces tell you everything—the soft wince, the shake of the head, the sigh.” Most people want other choices.

Clearly most Americans do not want either man currently leading in their party polls to be the nominees for President. Only 30% of Dems want Joe and even the majority of the Republicans don’t want The Donald. Desi Lydic of The Daily Show is quoted in Noonan’s article:

“Apparently there are only two people in America.”

You cannot help but wonder what has happened to leadership in America, whether it’s Rupert Murdoch and his Foxy friends or Bill DeBlasio screwing up New York City. I know leaders have always been flawed humans, but do they have to be this flawed? It’s no better in the media and many news executives have had to step down for misconduct. Banks are failing because their leadership is making awful decisions and those who regulate the banks are asleep at the wheel.

And let’s not forget those putatively sober souls who sit on our nation’s judicial benches. The Supreme Court has gone haywire in its decisions (abandoning Roe v. Wade) and its conduct (the Clarence Thomas traveling road and graft show). Lower court judges think that they are smarter than professional scientific regulators when it comes to drug safety.

On the local level, state legislatures are putting their own prejudices above the welfare and individual decision making of their own constituents. This is particularly true in Montana where the governor has just signed into law a bill inhibiting transgender individuals and their parents from making their own medical decisions with their doctors even as his own son, who is non-binary, begged the governor not to sign the bill.

And let’s not forget the leadership of our foreign allies in Hungary, Poland, and Israel. What has happened to leadership? It’s self-absorbed, self-serving, and borderline criminal. Sometimes—not so borderline.

Fine. Where is the next generation of leadership for the U.S.?

Is it Ron DeSantis who has managed to be more unlikeable than even Donald Trump? As Noonan notes a friend has commented to her that DeSantis “is not…unlikeable…it’s worse…he does not like us.”

As for the Democratic side, no one has the guts to challenge Biden for some reason except the nutcase Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. whose own family wants to disown the anti-vaxxer. Then there’s President in waiting (waiting for Joe to go to the big Scranton in the sky), Kamala Harris who Noonan notes “has been unable to say anything pertinent or even coherent on policy.”

This is a really sad state of affairs, but ought to be an opening for an ambitious woman or man to challenge either of the top dogs. They are both old dogs and a young upstart could mount a real challenge.

And, of course, I cannot overlook the lousy leadership at my former employer on Holcombe. Two consecutive MD Anderson presidents have been unsuited to the job and unable to do it. Both surrounded themselves with less than stellar assistance.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way to challenge the leadership of an academic cancer center whose president is selected by an uninvolved and uninformed board. You can’t even vote him out even as there are pretenders to the throne amongst the faculty, the vice presidents, and the greater cancer community at large.

The current president of MD Anderson has two claims to fame. He got the institution through Covid, although the plethora of zoom meetings continues long after they should have gone by the way side.  He has also managed to accumulate a litany of plaudits for his leadership from outside sources. I’m not really sure what the faculty think about him, but I suspect the younger ones who know no other kind of distant leadership than has been the case for over ten years see nothing wrong with the incumbent’s performance.

This is all quite sad. There must be a way to bring the cream to the top of the country, the states, and the medical institutions of America. There must.

Dr. Zwelling’s new novel, Conflict of Interest: Money Drives Medicine and People Die is available at:,

on amazon if you search using the title and subtitle 


directly from the publisher Dorrance at:




Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *