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Paul Farmer out for USAID?

Several Hill and Washington foreign policy hands say they are hearing from the White House that Paul Farmer is out as a candidate to lead USAID, a decision that was said to have been made at the White House. It wasn’t clear what the reason was, and a representative of Farmer’s group, Partners in Health, ...

Several Hill and Washington foreign policy hands say they are hearing from the White House that Paul Farmer is out as a candidate to lead USAID, a decision that was said to have been made at the White House. It wasn't clear what the reason was, and a representative of Farmer's group, Partners in Health, couldn't immediately be reached.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had sought White House permission to announce Farmer as the candidate to lead USAID when she appeared at the development agency last month, but said she wasn't given the nod to do so. She drew applause there and later in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations complaining about the lengthy and excruciating vetting process for administration candidates.

Given his resume as a pioneering health care visionary who has worked to bring health care to the poor in Haiti, Peru and elsewhere often railing against conventional bureaucratic practices and doctrine, Farmer was said by an associate and an administration official to have been daunted by the vetting paperwork for the prospetive job, including a form requiring him to list every foreigner he had come into contact with the past several years. But it wasn't clear if Farmer ran into a snag clearing the vet, grew disillusioned with the prospective job over the process, or rather, was a victim of the complaints about the vetting process.

Several Hill and Washington foreign policy hands say they are hearing from the White House that Paul Farmer is out as a candidate to lead USAID, a decision that was said to have been made at the White House. It wasn’t clear what the reason was, and a representative of Farmer’s group, Partners in Health, couldn’t immediately be reached.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had sought White House permission to announce Farmer as the candidate to lead USAID when she appeared at the development agency last month, but said she wasn’t given the nod to do so. She drew applause there and later in a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations complaining about the lengthy and excruciating vetting process for administration candidates.

Given his resume as a pioneering health care visionary who has worked to bring health care to the poor in Haiti, Peru and elsewhere often railing against conventional bureaucratic practices and doctrine, Farmer was said by an associate and an administration official to have been daunted by the vetting paperwork for the prospetive job, including a form requiring him to list every foreigner he had come into contact with the past several years. But it wasn’t clear if Farmer ran into a snag clearing the vet, grew disillusioned with the prospective job over the process, or rather, was a victim of the complaints about the vetting process.

Some foreign policy hands have noted that for Farmer’s visionary and inspiring career, the MacArthur genius, medical doctor and anthropologist wasn’t necessarily an easy fit for running a large government bureaucracy. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a query on the matter. One official said when Clinton discussed with the White House whether it would be possible to announce Farmer when she spoke at USAID last month, she was told there was an issue and that is what led to her public expression of frustration with the process.

Laura Rozen writes The Cable daily at ForeignPolicy.com.

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