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The Ebola Problem Has A Czar, But No Clear Solution

If there’s one thing that the GOP and early 20th-century Russian revolutionaries have in common, it is an impassioned scorn for the czar.

While I’m certain Ted Cruz doesn’t have Anastasia on his movie list, I’m not talking about a return of the Romanov dynasty. Rather, the despot I have in mind is newly appointed Ebola czar Ron Klain.

Without any medical expertise or past experience with global health, the former Chief of Staff to the Vice President has been tapped by the Obama administration to salvage a botched effort to contain the virus. And like everything else these days in Washington, a humanitarian crisis has become a politicized issue.

This should come as no surprise in a country where partisan allegiance trumps all and turning problems into talking points is a vogue practice. Frankly, if Godzilla showed up on America’s shoreline, officials would be quicker to curry his support for the midterm elections than call King Kong for some much-needed backup.

And as expected, both sides have conjured their own definition of “reasonable arguments.” Listen to the Right, and you’ll envision a situation in which health crisis and House of Cards collide—Cruz’s own footnote in the Book of Revelation. All across Sunday morning news shows, Cruz condemned Klain as a political operative. While I don’t think Obama personifies presidential competence, I do believe he has enough common sense to recognize that the magnitude of this situation transcends the spoils-system cronyism. Or does he?

In a rare act of brilliance, Cruz points to the crux of an important issue—why Klain? Instead of forging an M.D. next to the new czar’s name, the Left has gone out of its way to tout his “managerial experience.”

Sure, because everyone believes that managing political campaigns and containing global health crises are on the same playing field. How silly of us to think that in a country with some of the world’s most talented organizational leaders and medical professionals, Al Gore’s former campaign manager is the cream of the crop. Please, give us a break.

We could go on and on dissecting the merits of the two parties’ arguments, but from the latest back-and-forth in Washington have emerged two major concerns. The first is the Obama administration’s struggle to gauge context. Mr. President, your country is 1) concerned over a global health crisis and 2) weary of constant politicization. So in my opinion, calling on a politically connected lawyer with no medical experience to tame Ebola is probably not the smartest call to make.

The second and more concerning issue is the lack of agreement over what the main flaw in America’s effort against Ebola even is. Even with the most qualified appointee, a team cannot effectively resolve a conflict without cohesion. And it doesn’t help when some are calling it solely an issue of poor organizational management while others are emphasizing the importance of seriously addressing medical practices.

All arguments and Czarist analogies aside, the likelihood of this virus ever posing a widespread threat to Americans is slim to none. But it does shed light upon leadership in this country that is pertinent to any situation—when the going gets tough here, who’s going to get going?

Featured Image courtesy of AP Photo / Jacquelyn Martin

October 20, 2014