Monday, October 20, 2014

Ezra Klein on the new Ebola czar: Klain is a great choice

Here is some background on Ron Klain, Obama's appointee as Ebola czar, from Ezra Klein writing at vox.com.

Klain entered the administration as Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff. This was, itself, notable: Klain has been chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore, too, making him the only person to serve in that position for two different vice presidents.
But the esteem for Klain wasn't based on his resume. Rather, he had a mix of policy, political, and bureaucratic chops that everyone agreed was rare. The policy people spoke admiringly of his policy savvy, and they all agreed he lapped them in political instincts. The political people admired his political instincts, but recognized he was better at policy. And everyone agreed Klain knew how to run an interagency process.
"He understands the intersection of politics and policy better than anyone I've ever worked with," says economist Jared Bernstein, who worked closely with Klain in Biden's office, "and is thus uniquely effective in getting things done."

And all that is infinitely more important than having a medical degree.  Klein thinks that Klain will be better at getting stuff done than a new Surgeon General.

Actual government experience is badly underrated in Washington. Politicians run for office promising that they know how to run businesses, not Senate offices. "Bureaucrat" is often lobbed as an insult. But in processes like this one, government experience really matters. Nominating Klain suggests the White House is thinking about this correctly: as an effort that requires the coordination of already ample resources, where the danger is that the federal government will be too slow in sharing information across agencies and getting the resources where they need to go.

Let's hope that Klein is right about Klain.

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