In another great op-ed in The Wall Street Journal on January 20, Peggy Noonan notes a feeling that I have had and could not articulate. In writing about the current presidential contest, she notes three things that Trump supporters in 2016 did not know, but now they do and which are causing “disquiet,” the feeling I too have, I believe.
One: they didn’t know what they were getting.
Two: Trump did not know the true power of the presidency in 2017.
Three: neither Biden nor Trump should be president and the whole country knows that.
What is sorely lacking is a vision for tomorrow on the part of any current candidate. Biden will just be more of the same and Trump showed his true colors on January 6, 2021. He is a dangerous man, but so is the 81-year-old Biden.
This lack of connection between what the people need and what their leaders envision was epitomized by the three college presidents queried on Capitol Hill in December. Noonan writes, “viewers could fairly come away thinking: They don’t just live far away and have their own ideology, they have their own private language.” This was the issue of “context” when they were asked about calls for genocide. These leaders proved to be both out of touch and feckless. “The unprotected at this point did not only feel ignored and betrayed, they feel invaded,” writes Noonan of normal Americans.
Regardless of who wins the presidential race, the American people will continue to feel invaded by incompetent leadership and a blank space where there should be a plan for tomorrow.
I am going to argue that this same blank space exists at MD Anderson not solely out of malevolence, but also out of incompetence. None of the current leaders in the Executive Leadership Team (ELT) are qualified for their jobs. This is not because they are evil people, although they may be. I don’t know most of them. What I do know is that the president of MD Anderson has no vision for the institution’s future beyond lining his own pockets with a ludicrous salary of several million dollars and growth for growth’s sake to enlarge the coffers of a tax-exempt state institution.
The essence of planning for the future of medicine and oncology is research. None of the leaders of MD Anderson’s so-called ELT is a world-class investigator. At least the past president was that even though he had no idea how to lead anything.
Just as Ms. Noonan writes, “voters are going to want more options” when it comes to the 2024 race for the White House, the Board of Regents needs to revisit its prior selection to helm MD Anderson and reconsider further options for MD Anderson. The Regents too needed more choices.
Why not correct the error now—in both America and on Holcombe.
The future of oncology lies in discovery, not seeing more patients. It’s seeing each patient as a person which is tough to do when you have to see 40 every day.
Dr. Pisters simply was never up to the job and has not really grown into it. He has surrounded himself with non-investigators who are terrified of disagreeing with him and telling him the truth. He cannot even meet with groups of faculty without being accompanied by one of these ELT minders.
It is too bad the faculty cannot vote for the president of MD Anderson. If they could, I doubt the incumbent would prevail, but I could be wrong again. Maybe the young clinical faculty enjoy their work and don’t mind having no say in the governance of the institution. They may be content coming to work, seeing their 40 patients, doing their Epic charts, and going home. Maybe burnout has been oversold. Perhaps, but I bet given an alternative of a push toward a new future vs. the current direction, the faculty might choose something new.
When discussing the possibility of having a third-party choice Noonan writes: “the great unanswered question will be whether those mounting that party have enough imagination to understand what they could be this year.”
Does the faculty of MD Anderson understand what it could be? Does the faculty recognize what the ELT is, and, more importantly, is not?
To be determined!