Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Dr. Rachel Levine: Failing Up

One of my favorite phrases is "failing up." That's when someone who is perceived to be unsuccessful, even a failure, is promoted. People who've worked in the federal government know what I'm talking about. 

Recently Dr. Anthony Fauci, the 80-year-old, 30+ year head of the National Institute for Infectious Diseases and Allergies - allegedly our nation's top epidemiologist - has been used, perhaps unfairly, as an example of failing up.

But today, we have a new candidate. Dr. Rachel Levine, President-elect Joe Biden's announced nominee for Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services. It is perhaps the number 3 position at HHS, responsible for several hugely important agencies, from the Food and Drug Administration to the Public Health Service. It is arguably one of the top scientific positions in all government and the nation's top health official (although Dr. Fauci was asked to be President Biden's "chief medical advisor").

Of course, we know why Dr. Levine was chosen. She is transgender. It has everything to do with politics, and nothing to do with science, and certainly not with competence or integrity. Having lived through Pennsylvania's horrific mismanagement of the COVID crisis, there is overwhelming evidence that Dr. Levine is grossly unqualified to serve in any position of public trust. 

Yet, the minute Dr. Levine is criticized by any public person, they will instantly be accused of bigotry. One dare not mention that Dr. Levine's gender dysphoria in the context of criticizing the health secretary's scientific and policy judgments. If you do, the thought police emerge instantly and make Dr. Levin into a victim. I've seen it. Just don't go there.

Every Senate Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which will hold a hearing on Dr. Levine's nomination, will highlight her transgenderism, followed by every single Senate Democratic floor speech once it reaches the full chamber (and it will). Second, there's ample ammunition in Dr. Levine's awful record to torpedo the nomination. 

Unfortunately, in a nominally Democrat-controlled Senate, symbolism and politics will trump science and competence. It will be interesting to see which Republicans will go along with Dr. Levine's confirmation. I'm betting most of them, including Pennsylvania GOP Senator Pat Toomey. I hope that I am wrong. And watch what happens to Senators who are critical of Dr. Levine. 

What follows is but a small sample of Dr. Levine's failures as noted by Pennsylvania's leading media. With a record like this, given the responsibilities for vaccine distribution and administration and health policy in general, our nation's health leadership and infrastructure - and those who depend on it - are in for a very challenging time. 

Documents from Montgomery County, Pennsylvania - one of the state's most populous county in the Philadelphia suburbs, reveal the fear county officials had about Dr. Levine's and the state's mismanagement, especially with regard to nursing homes

Pennsylvania has consistently lagged behind other states in COVID testing

More than two-thirds of COVID deaths in Pennsylvania occur among aged Americans in long-term care facilities, among the highest in the country. Early in the crisis, Pennsylvania had a plan to deal with that. They not only failed to use it, Dr. Levine and Governor Tom Wolf (D) forced unprepared nursing homes, against their protests, to accept COVID-positive patients. 

Perhaps even worse, Dr. Levine and her team quietly changed the death counts as the crisis worsened.

But here's the coup de grace. As the Pennsylvania COVID nursing home crisis worsened - as Dr. Levine was forcing nursing homes to accept COVID positive patients - she moved her mother out of her nursing home into a hotel.  Too bad other Pennsylvania families could not have been afforded the same opportunity.

Pennsylvania's vaccination rate, despite having one of the highest per capita populations of 65+ Americans, trails many states, including Florida. 

There is nothing inspiring about a record or a person like this. It should frighten and alarm you. Dr. Levine should never have been nominated and should have been fired as Pennsylvania's health secretary months ago. 

Now it is time for Americans - and the media - to hold Senators accountable for the confirmation process, and to watch their votes carefully. 

1 comment:

  1. Alarming and eye-opening information, thank you...and silly me, I thought competence would sit atop the list of qualifications for this important position. It could be life threatening to hold my breath waiting for the media (or Senate) to be accountable...

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