Former GW Bush Official Tevi Troy Calls for “Neutral Zone” in Public Health


Tevi Troy has called out three political icons in a Politico essay — Bill Maher, Farrakhan and Glenn Beck — for irresponsible commentary about the swine flu virus and public health, and I applaud Troy for doing so.
Tevi Troy, who is now at the Hudson Institute and previously served as both Deputy Domestic Policy Advisor to GW Bush and then served as Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services, supports the seriousness of President Obama’s calling the upcoming flu season a national emergency.
Troy writes in Politico:

What do Bill Maher, Louis Farrakhan and Glenn Beck have in common? Usually not much, but this flu season, they have all been irresponsible voices who could potentially constitute a greater public health threat than the H1N1 virus.
As we enter what could be a difficult flu season — President Barack Obama just declared a national emergency — we face a number of challenges to our public health infrastructure. Some of these challenges are typical and expected, such as the difficulties of distributing materials across a huge country with more than 300 million people in it or the complexities of producing in a short time frame a new vaccine that is safe and effective.
Others, however, are surprises, such as public skepticism from commentators like Maher regarding both public-safety measures like vaccines to prevent the spread of the illness and messages from public health officials. How elected leaders — and public commentators themselves — respond will determine our ability to be successful in facing the challenges of both seasonal and H1N1 influenza, as well as other potential biological events in the future.

He concludes:

As we look to the future, it is time to declare potential bio events a “neutral zone” — a place beyond politics that should be entered by both parties together.
This approach would be far more likely to grab Americans’ attention, as the public knows all too well that on most issues, our politicians are constantly at war. But on public health issues essential to the safety of the American people, we need elected leaders who understand the skepticism of citizens and reach out in a bipartisan way with an intelligent, informative, respectful message that helps turn hard government work on preparation and education into successful execution.

Tevi Troy is sounding a lot like Barack Obama on the public health front — or better yet, Obama is sounding a lot like Tevi Troy. . .and that’s a constructive step towards the kind of neutral zone that is needed in some parts of America’s policy establishment.
— Steve Clemons
Editor’s Note: Hat tip to intrepid news hound and TWN reader Daniel Lippman for forwarding Tevi Troy’s Politico article.


6 comments on “Former GW Bush Official Tevi Troy Calls for “Neutral Zone” in Public Health

  1. Outraged American says:

    My parents (and granted we spent our early childhood in India
    so if you didn’t die you lived) would, after we moved to the US,
    only give us antibiotics if we were on our deathbeds.
    We’re all staggeringly healthy in terms of colds and flu types of
    I was cured of something like rheumatic fever by homeopathic
    pills dispensed by this Indian nun named Mother Amy.
    My husband avoided thyroid medication by using acupuncture
    and Chinese herbs.
    Obviously, these aren’t going to work for everyone, but I think
    what is telling is that when you watch mainstream, daytime TV,
    one commercial will be for a miracle drug for something really
    crippling like “restless leg syndrome”
    Then the next will sound like an air raid alert, “IF YOU HAVE
    So many natural parts of our diets/ home remedies have now
    been proven to be effective in scientific tests to help or prevent
    * Turmeric for all cancer
    * pomegranate for breast and prostrate cancer
    * cranberries for bladder infections and colon cancer
    * broccoli and cinnamon for diabetes
    * hot chili to stave off heart problems and cancer (it’s now been
    proven that the, don’t make me look it up, but the chili part
    ensures that cancer cells don’t reproduce)
    * milk thistle and dandelion root for liver problems
    * aspirin (willow bark) for strokes and heart attack
    This Swine flu thing is a big hoax. Rumsfeld’s involved, nuff said.
    Anyone remember “bird flu”? How many people did that end up
    killing? Probably less than the word count in one of Questions
    See- I went through one whole post with mentioning the country
    whose partisans most probably were the ones who hijacked
    Steve’s website today!


  2. JohnH says:

    In an article in the Atlantic Monthly, Shannon Brownlee and Jeanne Lenzer make a convincing case that flu shots could be just so much snake oil. Why? The shots’ effectiveness has never been subject to standard test procedures, so nobody can say for certain whether they actually work or not.
    Reminds me of the established wisdom of the foreign policy community, which they all genuflects before. Yet no one can explain the policy’s goals in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nor can they explain those mysterious “vital strategic interests” that they all talk about ad nauseum.


  3. Linda says:

    You are agreeing with Beck and Maher, and I already characterized those beliefs. The H1N1 (not called swine flu) vaccine was tested and produced in exactly the same way that all seasonal flu vaccines are made. So I don’t know where you are getting your news and information.
    If you have children, I hope you get them vaccinated and not put them at risk. Many children, pregnant women, and young adults already have died from H1N1.


  4. jimbojones says:

    Umm…a former bush admin official??? That’s all I need to know about his credibility. Considering that this vaccine was rushed thru w/o all the usual testing procedures, I’ll “opt-out” and take my chances. When people start dying from swine-flu maybe ill reconsider.


  5. Linda says:

    I disagree that Troy and his statement is worth that much praise as taking politics out of public health. Of course, Troy is correct in calling out stupid remarks of Beck and Maher about effectiveness of H1N1 vaccines. When Beck and Maher are saying the same thing, it’s not about politics.
    Public health policy and practice when Troy was in Bush HHS was highly politicized and not at all balanced including many more than these two examples:
    Abstinence only sex education that made no scientific sense at all but was imposing Bush’s fundamentalist Christian and Troy’s Orthodox Jewish beliefs on public policy.
    In foreign health policy Bush administration denied funding to any organizations working in family and women’s health overseas that included abortion as a family planning option.
    The Obama administration has already reversed many of the Bush HHS bad public health policies that were politically motivated.
    So Obama and Troy both believe that vaccines are effective–but they probably don’t agree about a whole lot of health policy issues.


  6. questions says:

    Public health is the one place where so clearly we are all in the same boat that I cannot ever believe that people don’t take it seriously.
    What is it about infectious diseases that people don’t get?
    How can some feel so insulated and/or isolated that they don’t think about TB, AIDS, influenza, food borne illnesses that might show up only at first in public clinics?
    How can we not have THE BEST public health system in the world, where in natural disasters, in epidemics, in horrible accidents we would all have a place to turn?
    How can the moralizers who push the moral hazard bullshit, race baiters who worry about “those” people’s getting care, and politicians who are supposed to be working for all of us, how can these people not get it?
    Public health, both at the basic level of honesty over flu and other transmissible diseases, and at the level of clinic funding, is one of THE central functions of a society. We are all susceptible, we are all in the same boat, we all need to work together.
    To politicize rather than to serve is the height of wickedness, stupidity, and selfish ignorance. Note, to squeeze Plato in, Book X of the Repub has a character who lived in a well-ruled city but who never figured out really what justice required.
    And that guy, according to the myth of Er, picks his next life and discovers to his horror that he is fated to eat his own children and lament for the ages.
    Those who would politicize lives at this level ought to think about that at dinner tonight. What, really, are you “eating?”


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