If you aren’t yet you will be when you find out who’s in charge of public health emergencies in the Bush administration.
With all the news and fears about avian flu coming our way, here’s a bit of information that may help you sleep better.
Stewart Simonson is on the job. That’s Simonson, as in ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson’s staff lawyer for four years, back when Tommy ran Wisconsin. After leaving Madison, Simonson became a top honcho at Amtrak, where Thompson served as board chairman.
Then when President Bush named Thompson the boss of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Simonson tagged along. Today, he carries the lofty title of assistant secretary for public health emergency preparedness.
Going from a young staffer for a Wisconsin governor – just a year out of law school – to a top dog in HHS is, to put it mildly, an interesting career path for the 42-year-old Simonson.
That’s what you call upward mobility.
Simonson is now the point man for just about every health emergency that may hit our shores, ranging from anthrax attacks to an avian flu pandemic.
You heard that right. Another staff attorney sitting for which none of his previous experience would even remotely recommend him. First Michael Brown. Then John Roberts and Harriet Miers. Now Stewart Simonson. What is it with this administration and appointing political hacks to positions that can potentially mean life or death for countless other Americans?
My money says that if an avian flu epidemic breaks out, look for another Katrina-like debacle. The hardest hit will be the poor, the very young, and the very old. Look for the emergency rooms to be packed with people in these categories, mostly without health insurance, etc. There might even be a higher body count. (Though we don’t know what the count from Katrina is, and the count itself has been stopped.)
I used to think that people get the government then deserve. Now I think that it’s the rest of us who get the government that the people who voted for it in the first place deserve.