Good news — measles may have come roaring back, but it looks like we fixed cancer! At least, it appears it’s no longer as pressing a priority as one white man’s dream.
A few days ago, I got the email I knew was coming. It was from the Biden Cancer Initiative, informing those of us on their list that the former vice president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, were stepping down as co-chairs of the organization and its Board of Directors. It had come in the aftermath of Joe Biden’s long expected announcement last week that was officially entering the 2020 race for the White House, and with the explanation that “Our time and focus will be redirected for the foreseeable future.” I know I don’t speak for every American who has ever faced life-threatening cancer, but I am confident I’m not the only one who greeted this latest development with a weary, “Then you do you, Joe.” How lovely to have time and focus. And a future.
When then-Vice President Biden’s ambitious “Cancer Moonshot” was announced during Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address back in 2016, we were living in a different world. There was the strong possibility of Hilary Clinton becoming the next president of the United States, or at least a Republican with literally any experience in governance. We had the luxury of imagining Biden benevolently spending his post-political career working to, as he put it, “help end cancer as we know it.”
In the administration’s final months, the Cancer Moonshot laid the groundwork for an ambitious and energetic new chapter in scientific progress and patient advocacy. In June of 2016, the first nationwide Moonshot summit was held. I watched it all with the interest and hope of someone who — like one in three of us — has a personal stake in the issue. I noted when the project struggled to find its voice and tone, but rooted for its success. Just a month before the election, my friend Jessica and I even went down to D.C. and met with three Moonshot leaders in their offices, grateful that they were eager to hear our thoughts and ideas on patient-forward approaches to treatment.
Then November 8 happened.
The idea that the new administration would be enthusiastic about such a project was now up in the air. With science now apparently “a Democrat thing,” Biden’s goal to “make a decade’s worth of advances in five years” was looking more like a private enterprise than a civic priority. In July of 2017, the Bidens announced the launch of the Biden Cancer Initiative, describing it as “a continuation of the Cancer Moonshot” and appointing key former Moonshot staffers for the new venture.
No one could doubt the sincerity of Joe Biden — who lost his son Beau to brain cancer in 2015 — in his desire to be of service to the cancer community as he faced his grief. Nor was anyone expecting Joe and Jill to single-handedly eradicate all forms of cancer in our lifetime. Research will go on without the Bidens’ hands-on efforts, just like the Biden Initiative itself will continue its innovative collaborations and programs. But when a young breast cancer survivor asked me the other day what I thought of Biden’s candidacy, I realized that I’m pretty goddamn furious about it.
Welp, you gave it a go for three-odd years— less than two as a thing to put your own name on. Sounds good enough, right? Meanwhile my friend Jessica, who sat by my side as we talked about patient care with your people, Joe, is gone. A lot of people are, what with cancer being the second leading cause of death in America. And it’s great that the death rate has been declining for over two decades, but that means more of us — like me — are living with the long-term effects of disease and treatment. Then there’s the cost of treatment — a protocol like the one that saved my life will run upwards of a million bucks. Whatever, I guess that’s not your problem any more.
We all have a right to change our minds about our career paths. Joe Biden doesn’t owe anybody the rest of his life in service to one cause. But frankly, I had really admired him for his post-White House plans. And now I cannot believe that the American people are facing the prospect of the Democratic race coming down to a 76-year-old guy chasing his feelings and ambition. Isn’t this pretty much how we got in this mess in the first place?
If the 2020 presidential election ends up between Joe Biden and an actual lunatic, I will be a responsible American citizen and vote for Biden. But in the meantime, I’m just going to be fully exasperated at how easily folksy Joe could apparently de-prioritize his commitment to the cancer community. You can talk about breakthroughs and data and genetic testing all day long, but as Biden well knows, the story of cancer is a story of human beings, plenty of whom are scared and suffering right now. There are roughly 17 million cancer survivors living in the United States. I wonder if Biden’s considered how many of them vote, and how many of them are as over him as I am.
Trump displays ‘serious signs’ of cognitive deterioration as his impeachment trial ramps up
President Donald Trump's comments about Thomas Edison sparked concerns about his mental health among attorneys, former government officials and a Yale University psychiatrist.
Trump on Wednesday compared Tesla founder Elon Musk to inventor Thomas Edison in an interview with CNBC.
"He's one of our great geniuses, and we have to protect our genius," Trump said. "You know, we have to protect Thomas Edison, and we have to protect all of these people that came up with originally the light bulb, and the wheel and all of these things. And he's one of our very smart people, and we want to cherish those people."
Fox News’ coverage of Trump’s impeachment trial has been an embarrassing joke
When Rep. Hakeem Jeffries addressed the U.S. Senate on Thursday night as part of President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, there was a crucial difference between how Jeffries’ speech was covered on different cable news outlets: while CNN and MSNBC broadcast the speech, Fox News muted the speech while its pundits offered pro-Trump talking points. CNN and MSNBC allowed viewers to hear Jeffries making a compelling case for removing Trump from office; Fox News let viewers see Jeffries but not hear him. And that Trump-friendly way of covering the trial is the subject of an article journalist Aaron Rupar wrote for Vox this week.
Republicans’ phony impeachment outrage can’t conceal their deep-seated anxiety
When you watch a trial, whether you're on a jury yourself or on the couch in front of the TV, the prosecution's presentation always seems airtight — until you see the defense. So I don't want to say at this stage that the House managers in Donald Trump's Senate impeachment trial have made their case. But seriously, it's hard to see how the president's team can plausibly explain away this behavior. Their only choice will be to admit that all the evidence is true and tell the American people that it was perfect.