Add the Harvard Kennedy School to the long and growing list of institutions making sacrifices due to COVID-19. As students, staff, and faculty entered their third week of quarantine, they received the surprising news that their Dean, Douglas William Elmendorf, has been urgently summoned to Washington to take charge of fiscal policy to cope with the economic impacts of the epidemic.
Elmendorf’s appointment was announced by President Trump in a Zoom teleconference with the nation at 9 a.m. this morning. In a bipartisan show of support for Elmendorf, the Zoom call was co-hosted by Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House. Financial futures jumped at news of Elmendorf’s appointment – unsurprising given that he has long been known on Wall Street by the sobriquet, “Dandy Doug.”
In his announcement, President Trump remarked that Elmendorf “did a splendid job when he was director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and I did a terrific job in selecting him for this position.” It should be noted that The Citizen is not exactly sure that these were the President’s precise words, as technological difficulties muted his microphone multiple times during his remarks. The Citizen retained a professional lipreader to transcribe the President’s speech.
A follow-up Twitter message revealed the President’s pique at his technology staff. “America didn’t get to hear my great words about Elmendorf. Sad!” The President is rumored to have asked Elmendorf to bring the Kennedy School’s Senior Instructional Technologist, Ian Tosh, with him to Washington to serve in the newly created post of Special Assistant to the President for Zoom Affairs.
Midway through the President’s pantomimed remarks, Speaker Pelosi seized control of the meeting, taking the opportunity to wax fondly about her years working with Elmendorf when he was at the CBO. The Speaker then attempted to show viewers a prized photograph of her and the then CBO-head at the annual congressional cookout and pie throwing contest. However, due to the inopportune angle of Speaker Pelosi’s web camera, the photograph was largely out of frame, except for a solitary elbow. The Citizen, utilizing advanced forensic technology, has confirmed that the elbow in question does indeed belong to the departing Kennedy School Dean. Pelosi observed: “Doug was always professional, but he also knew how to have fun. In fact, he had quite a wicked sense of humor. He tells a great joke about …” At this point, the speaker’s audio connection failed, but the grin on her face testified to the Dean’s expansive comedic talents.
By this point in the press conference, a special combined elite task force of the National Security Council and the Council of Economic Advisors had succeeded in unmuting the President’s microphone. President Trump then invited Dean Elmendorf to say a few words. “Who would have thought a bookworm from Poughkeepsie could end up bearing the burden of saving the nation?” Elmendorf asked wistfully, before adding, “I mean, aside from me and my mother?” Taking a minute to adjust his Zoom settings to deactivate his virtual beach-side background, he added, “I look forward to working once again with the distinguished men and women of Congress. The change from the Kennedy School’s faculty will not be without its attractions.”
Professor Al Lajoke, the Dunder Mifflin Distinguished Professor of Comparative Mammalian Policy, spoke for many at the Kennedy School when he said, “Dean Elmendorf is a great leader and intellectual, despite being an economist. The Kennedy School’s loss is America’s gain.”
In an exclusive statement to The Citizen, President Larry Bacow of Harvard remarked, “This is an unprecedented April. I must admit, when I first heard the news, I couldn’t believe it. I thought someone was making a fool of me.”
Despite President Bacow’s downbeat tone, The Citizen has learned that he is already in talks with several candidates to serve as the Kennedy School’s seventh Dean. However, former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, having recently signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is said to be out of the running.