Ebola ‘Czar’ Political Move

In what may be the most irresponsible act of his tenure, President Barack Obama has appointed a political hack to lead the fight against Ebola. Thoughtful Americans of all political persuasions may conclude Obama is more worried about his reputation than about saving lives.

Time and time again, the president’s reaction to a real or imagined concern has been to appoint a federal “czar.” In every case, the person named has been a staunch supporter of the president rather than someone with expertise in the problem at hand.

But Friday’s announcement of a new national coordinator to battle Ebola is Obama’s most blatant abdication of responsibility in favor of politics.

Don’t take our word for it. Here is part of how The Associated Press reported the president’s action: “Meanwhile, Obama moved to step up the U.S. response to the disease, naming Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, as the administration’s point man on Ebola. Klain is a longtime Democratic operative who also served as a top aide to Vice President Al Gore. He does not have any medical or public health experience.”

Later, the AP filled out Klain’s resume, noting he formerly was an aide to Attorney General Janet Reno during President Bill Clinton’s administration. And, it was noted, Klain “helped spearhead the roughly $800 billion stimulus package in 2009 …”

In other words, Klain’s job has been one of working hard to make his bosses – Reno,?Clinton,?Gore, Biden and Obama – look good.

A responsible appointment might have taken note of a report from the World Health Organization on why that agency failed to contain Ebola in Africa. Mistakes were made because “fairly plain writing on the wall” was ignored by heads of the agency’s offices in Africa.

The WHO report blamed that on “politically motivated appointments” of those functionaries.

Americans ought to be asking questions about Obama’s choice:

  • Wouldn’t it have made more sense to appoint someone with a background in both medicine and government – a former surgeon general, for example?
  • Would a more effective appointment have been of a former high-ranking military medical officer who has supervised many professionals working in many locations and under stressful circumstances?
  • Is Klain’s job primarily to make the White House look good, perhaps to make Americans think our government is doing its best to fight Ebola?
  • What was the president’s chief goal in appointing Klain?

Some observers question whether U.S. officials take the Ebola situation seriously. Unfortunately, Obama’s action Friday is no reassurance in that regard.


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