When Ron Klain leaves his post as the White House's "Ebola response coordinator," or czar, sometime early next year, don't expect a big send-off from President Obama, much less a declaration of mission accomplished. In all likelihood, the disease will still be raging in parts of West Africa, and the U.S. will still have a sizable military presence there to combat it. The CDC will still be warning of the possibility of isolated cases on domestic soil, and the Department of Homeland Security probably won't have lifted the heightened security and travel restrictions it put in place in the fall.
But as President Obama himself noted last week, the public's attention has moved on from Ebola, and so, too, will Klain. A respected former top aide to both Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, Klain arrived in the White House in October as the designated behind-the-scenes fixer of a crisis that was roiling the administration just weeks before a national election. He was given the title of coordinator, but it was never precisely clear what he did. Republicans panned the selection because Klain was not a doctor or a scientist, while reporters complained that he rarely appeared in public. During Obama's last two extensive remarks on Ebola, he never mentioned Klain or his work.