We're not saying there's a connection here, but we're not saying there isn't, either.
Remember how George W. Bush selected as his FEMA director a man whose last job involved judging horse shows for the International Arabian Horse Association? Well, the president's Food and Drug Administration commissioner has appointed an acting director for the Office of Women's Health, and he's a man -- a man! -- who has spent much of his career working in the field of veterinary medicine.
The FDA had an opening to fill in the Office of Women's Health because its last director, Susan Wood, quit in protest over the agency's dithering and delays on the morning-after pill. Wood's acting replacement is Norris Alderson. Alderson has a bachelor's degree in animal husbandry from the University of Tennessee and graduate degrees from the University of Kentucky. He has worked at the FDA for more than 30 years, more than 20 of which he spent in the agency's Bureau of Veterinary Medicine.
Karen Pearl, the interim president of Planned Parenthood, said that Alderson's appointment "speaks volumes about the priority the Bush administration places on women's health and safety."
It does, all right, and not just in the language that Doctor Doolittle understands.
Update: Shortly after we posted this item, which was based on a press release from Planned Parenthood, a reader alerted us to a press release that was posted today on the FDA's Web site. In that release, the FDA said that Theresa A. Toigo has been appointed as the acting director of the Office of Women's Health. The FDA press release also says, rather cryptically, "This is a revision of this statement posted earlier on September 16." That earlier statement is no longer available on the FDA's site, but, as another reader pointed out, a cached version is still available through Google. Under the heading, "Dr. Norris Alderson -- Acting Director of FDA's Office of Women's Health," Alderson's bio says, "The majority of his FDA career has been in the Center for Veterinary Medicine, holding a number of management positions, culminating in the position of Director, Office of Research." Did the FDA scramble to change acting directors once it realized that Alderson's appointment might invite unhappy comparisons to Michael Brown's tenure at FEMA? Inquiring minds want to know, and are still waiting for calls back to find out.