The Campaign Spot

‘Political’ Decision Replaces Management of Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

Michael Gerson is a former speechwriter for President Bush whose passion about fighting AIDS in Africa seems to be the focus of every third column he writes. Well, the Obama administration has just poked Gerson in the eye by dismissing Dr. Mark Dybul from his position as coordinator of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, after initially asking him to stay on.

. . . someone at State or the White House determined that sacrificing Dybul would appease a few vocal, liberal interest groups. One high-ranking Obama official admitted that the decision was “political.” Yet the AIDS coordinator is not a typical political job, distributed as spoils, like some deputy assistant position at the Commerce Department. It involves directing a massive emergency operation to provide lifesaving drugs, through complex logistics, to some of the most distant places on Earth. And now that operation may be months without effective leadership–undermining morale, complicating interagency cooperation, delaying new prevention initiatives and postponing budget decisions.

Gerson doubts that Obama or incoming Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a direct role in the dismissal.

Perhaps Obama genuinely wants to set a new tone in Washington. But will those who work for him let him?

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