With his face plastered for weeks on every TV set in America, CDC director Tom Frieden is suffering from an advanced case of media overexposure. While meant to reassure, his clinical demeanor and calculated speech patterns as he explains the U.S. Ebola outbreak often come across as patronizing — even smug.
No doubt that smugness factored heavily in the Obama administration’s Friday decision to fire Frieden as the face of the federal Ebola response. Replacing him is “Ebola czar” Ron Klain, a Democratic hack with decades of experience in the political shark tank. President Obama expects Klain to alleviate the public’s fear without talking down to people — a skill that seemed to elude his predecessor.
Frieden’s style should have come as no surprise to the White House. As undisputed captain of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg’s nanny state, Frieden made his political career by lecturing, pressuring, and outright coercing people into making healthy “choices.” From tobacco to trans fats to table salt, the ex–New York City health commissioner took a “papa knows best” approach to public health, confidently exercising control over the most basic aspects of millions of peoples’ lives…