Brenda Fitzgerald. Photo: Branden Camp/AP
On first glance, the most startling thing about Donald Trumps pick to lead the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention was its propriety: Brenda Fitzgerald is a trained obstetrician-gynecologist who worked for three decades in private practice before becoming Georgias public health commissioner in 2011. In her time in the post, Fitzgerald won the respect of her peers in other states, and they recently elected her president of the nonprofit group that represents Americas state and territorial public-health agencies. Her appointment was praised by Barack Obamas former CDC director Tom Frieden.
Fizgerald is a staunch believer in the mission of her agency, and has said that the private sector is incapable of performing its core functions. While she has longstanding ties to the Republican Party having twice run unsuccessfully for Congress she has proven willing to subordinate conservative orthodoxy to her convictions as a medical professional: In her first House run, Fitzgerald argued that decisions about abortion should be left to women and their doctors.
Finally, as the first female OB/GYN ever tapped to run the CDC, Fitzgerald brings a unique (and historically marginalized) perspective with her to the federal government.
All this makes her a bizarre addition to the Trump cabinet. Thus far, the president has evinced a deep commitment to stocking his administrations domestic agencies with appointees who are eithercomically unqualified for their assignments (Ben Carson), hostile to the very purpose of the department theyre meant to direct (Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos), or rich, white men who bring ethical baggage and/or flagrant conflicts of interest to their posts (Tom Price, Rex Tillerson, Wilbur Ross, Gary Cohn, etc.).
But fear not the fundamental laws of our political universe have not been rewritten. Once you read this dispatch from Forbess Rita Rubin, everything will fall back into place:
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, appointed Friday as director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist who saw patients for 30 years in private practice.
Unlike any OB/GYN I know, Fitzgerald treated men as well as women. Thats because besides being board-certified in obstetrics and gynecology, she is a fellow in anti-aging medicine.
Among her credentialslisted on [her gynecological practices] website: board certification in Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine by theAmerican Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine. However, the American Board of Medical Specialties, made up of the specialty boards that certify physicians,doesnt recognize the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine(A4M), which promotes the use of intravenous nutritional therapy, bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) and pellet therapy, in which tiny pellets that contain hormones are placed under the skin.
[B]ioridiculous is how Dr. Nanette Santoro, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, described the use of bio-identical hormones in a recent guest post on the North American Menopause Societys MenoPause blog. Santoro described a patient whose hair had fallen out because she had been rubbing testosterone cream into her skin every day and overdosed. Another patient, age 52, had estrogen levels higher than when she was pregnant, due to estrogen pellets that had been inserted under her skin months earlier.
Now, a snake-oil saleswoman fits perfectly into the Trump cabinet. The president and secretary of Housing and Urban Development have both dabbled in peddling scientifically dubious supplements, while the secretary of Education owes her fortune to one of the most successful pyramid schemes in world history.
Fitzgerald wasnt shy about her antiaging expertise, touting that rsum item in her bio on the Georgia Department of Public Health website. Further, her private practices old homepage included the following frequently asked questions.
What is anti-aging medicine?
It is a new specialty of medicine that studies the changes that occur in all of us as we age. It is dedicated to treating the cause of problems, not just the symptoms.
How do I know I am taking the right supplements?
We can now measure the vitamins, antioxidants, necessary fats and proteins in your cells with a simple blood test. If you like the supplements you are taking (Juice Plus, for example), we can tell you what you need to add.
Can you treat my husband?
I have taken additional training in male hormones so that I may treat male hormone deficiencies as well as female deficiencies.
Why did you become interested in anti-aging medicine?
I got older! The life expectancy for women in 1900 was 48. The majority of women never reached the hormone depleted state of menopause just 100 years ago. Now most of us can expect to live half of our lives without natural optimal hormone production.
The Food and Drug Administration has warned that it has no evidence that the bio-identical hormones central to anti-aging medicine are safer or more effective than other hormone products.
All that said, even with her scientifically dubious side-hustle, Fitzgerald is still among the most defensible appointments Trump has made. Whatever her unorthodox views on the virtues of antiaging hormone therapy, she does have a significant body of experience in managing public health. It seems likely that the former will have more bearing on her capacity to combat the threat that Ebola, Zika, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and other infectious diseases pose to the country and globe.
Which is to say: At least we arent relying on Ben Carson to coordinate the federal governments response to the next pandemic.
More concerning than Trumps appointment of Fitzgerald is his administrations proposal to cut the CDCs budget by $1.2 billion.
Heres hoping that bubonic plague doesnt emerge from melting Siberian ice anytime soon.
The money, included in a Homeland Security spending bill, is likely to set up a shutdown fight with Democrats.
The administration is already brainstorming how they can spin this into a conversation about Clintons mishandling of sensitive intelligence.
Will the extra time enable Republicans to come up with a health-care bill 50 senators support? Or deals on taxes and the budget?
Kushner attended a meeting that was explicitly framed as an opportunity to benefit from Russian meddling. And he still has a security clearance.
Weve gone from evidence of collusion to proof.
A man of many talents.
GOP base voters have long regarded the media as biased allies of their enemies. Its taken Trump to convince them any bad news is just made up.
This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its governments support for Mr. Trump.
The first rule of Tautology Club is the first rule of Tautology Club.
Protesters promised to greet him if he made his official state visit.
An unedited Q&A with the prominent climatologist, who took issue with New Yorks latest cover story for being overly doomist.
The Kremlin-linked lawyer who met with Donald Trump Jr. claims that he was desperate for dirt on Clinton but she had none to give.
Hua Haifeng was investigating factories where the First Daughters shoes we
re made before his arrest.
In their desire to see Trump banished, theyve embraced some unusual bedfellows, like Benjamin Wittes.
It involves a beauty pageant, a Russian pop star, and Trumps decades-old dream of building in Moscow.
Sources say before meeting with a Kremlin-connected lawyer, he was told the dirt she had on Hillary Clinton was part of a larger Russian effort.
The pro-Trump local-news giant has tripled the number of Boris Epshteyn segments that all its affiliates must air each week.
He could tap McConnells favorite Luther Strange or Hannitys favorite Mo Brooks. Theocrat Roy Moores in the mix, too.
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