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New Ebola Czar Ron Klain Is A Long-Time Lobbyist, Democratic Operative

Ron Klain, Obama’s pick for Ebola czar, is a long-time lobbyist, Democratic operative, and White House staffer.


Earlier today, President Barack Obama announced that he would be appointing Ron Klain as an additional Ebola czar (he already had one before today). If Ron Klain sounds familiar to you, it’s because he has a long political pedigree. He has no medical, scientific, or federal agency administrative expertise, but he has a whole lot of political experience.

In January of 2011, Klain stepped down as chief of staff for Vice President Joe Biden. Before that, Ron Klain was a well-connected Washington lobbyist. According to Senate lobbying disclosure records, Klain’s clients included Fannie Mae, U.S. Airways, Time Warner, CIGNA, and Imclone.

Klain also worked as chief of staff for former Vice President Al Gore, Janet Reno, the Senate Democratic Leadership Committee, and the Senate Judiciary Committee. But that’s not all! Ron Klain did debate prep for both Obama and former president Bill Clinton. And if that weren’t enough, Klain was also general counsel of Al Gore’s election recount committee in 2000.

Ron Klain has a lot of experience. Unfortunately, absolutely none of it is related to public health, epidemiology, or cross-agency administration.

That Obama would appoint a long-time Democratic operative with zero public health or federal administrative experience tells us everything we need to know about how Obama views the Ebola panic: Ebola is a political problem for the White House, not a public health problem for the nation.

You don’t pick a former White House staffer to run a massive public health effort if you think you have a public health problem. You pick a former White House staffer if you view this as a political problem to be managed for the remaining weeks heading into the election.

We should actually be somewhat thankful for this move from the White House, because it tells us everything we need to know about how the Obama White House views the current landscape. Obama apparently believes that Ebola is a political problem to be swept under the rug, not a public health epidemic that needs to be eradicated as quickly as possible.

UPDATE: The White House has responded to criticisms of its choice of a long-time Democratic political operative to head its Ebola response efforts:

Seriously. The White House spokesman literally said of the qualifications of its newest Ebola czar, “What we were looking for was not an Ebola expert.” The White House didn’t want somebody who knew anything about Ebola to head up its anti-Ebola effort. It wanted an “implementation expert.” A White House spokesman said those things out loud.

If Klain has experience implementing anything other than Democratic political ploys, we’d love to hear about it.