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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

May 30, 2014 - 8:28 am

The White House stood by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki through mounting calls for his resignation over the department’s waitlist scandal, but today he finally stepped down.

President Obama called an impromptu news conference this morning at which he said moments before he’d seen the department’s initial review on allegations of secret waitlists that left veterans waiting long periods for care and even dying during these periods.

“What they found is that the misconduct has not been limited to a few VA facilities but many across the country,” Obama said, adding that the findings are “unacceptable”

He said Shinseki had begun firing people associated with the waitlists and canceled bonuses for senior executives. Shinseki directed the VA to contact every veteran waiting in Phoenix.

“A few minutes ago Secretary Shinseki offered me his resignation,” Obama said. “With regret, I accepted.”

He went on to praise Shinseki, saying that his commitment to veterans is “unquestioned” and that the secretary “has worked hard to investigate and identify the problem… he does not want to be a distraction.”

“I agree we don’t have time for distractions,” Obama said. “We need to fix the problem.”

Acting Secretary Sloan Gibson, who became deputy secretary at the VA just three months ago, will take over the agency. Obama said he hopes to have a nominee before Congress soon.

Obama said the only change that led to the resignation was Shinseki’s “judgment.”

“He is a very good man… who’s done exemplary work on our behalf,” the president said. “… I think he’s deeply disappointed that bad news didn’t get to him.”

However, as of this morning, 119 lawmakers were calling for Shinseki’s resignation, including 10 Democratic senators and 27 House Dems.

Backers of Shinseki in Congress included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Even House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) wasn’t jumping on the resignation bandwagon, expressing concern that Shinseki could be used by the administration as a scapegoat.

“I’m going to continue to reserve judgment on General Shinseki,” Boehner told reporters at a GOP news conference yesterday. “The question I ask myself, is him resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem? Is it going to help us find out what’s really going on? And the answer I keep giving is no. But the real issue here is that the president is the one who should be held accountable.”

Obama was asked at this morning’s news conference is Shinseki was a scapegoat. “Meaning?” Obama replied.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) called it “time for a fresh pair of eyes on this calamity.”

“His resignation alone will not solve this problem, because this isn’t just about one man—it is about a culture change. We need to hold accountable those who were carrying out or encouraging these practices day to day, and we must ensure that the VA health system provides the responsiveness and quality care our veterans deserve,” Donnelly said. “It’s clear that the current scheduling system is woefully inadequate and allows for those who want to game the system to disregard the standards we expect for those who have so honorably served our country. We must not stop until the system is fixed.”

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) said Shiseki’s replacement “should not come from within the current dysfunctional system that is failing our veterans.”

“I hope the president is willing to give veterans an individual they can trust to take the Department of Veteran’s Affairs in a new direction, and give veterans hope that the VA can move beyond its failures and provide them with the care they earned and deserve,” Moran said.

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
Top Rated Comments   
Offer us YOUR resignation, Mr. President. Our acceptance will make your ears ring. We will accept it with no regret.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Whew, now I'm completely comfortable with the Woodstock Jihad being in control of the latest scandal.

After all, an administration that abandons its men in a firefight they caused, calls a massacre of soldiers shouting Allah is Great...a "workplace" issue in order to deprive them of benefits, has a Commander in Chief who spent his whole life calling them baby killers, got his political start in a living room of a guy who plotted to murder them at a dance with their dates with exploding nail guns, ...and a Secretary of State who falsely testified against them, calling them murderers and rapists and consorted with the enemy....well NOW I'm completely at ease with their "concern" over treating them shabbily when they need care.

When you announce withdrawal dates and out Station Chiefs and treat enemies like friends and allies like enemies....mentored by a CPUSA member...you are the Comrade In Chief.

But, the Save Our Scandal, Spouses and Siblings Media (SOS Media) will stand ready to bury it all.

Along with our aggressively ignored and shabbily treated heroes.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
The head of Veterans Affairs need not be a general or even a veteran for that matter. The VA is far more similar to HHS than the DOD…when selecting a head of the VA, the President should look for someone who would also be a perfectly good candidate to head HHS.

If the President were smart*, he would name Mitt Romney to the position.

*NOTE: The President is not smart.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (30)
All Comments   (30)
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So the buzzword for veterans being rationed medical treatment is a "distraction." A fine way for Obama to describe what amounts to "death panels." I have news for the "commander in chief" - this is MORE than a "distraction" - it is dereliction of duty.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Then boy wonder(i didn't stutter,i said boy)goes and names the V.A.s #2 as a replacement.Farking Stoopid.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
The problem isn't Shinseki or even the VA. It is government medicine.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
I think that all government workers, Senators, Members of Congressand Cabinet and the POTUS and VicePOTUS should b treated in VA hospitals. Their insurance should be tied to the VA hospital system and their doctors. See howlong it takefor the VA to improve.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
The VA will not stay fixed. It hasn't worked as intended since it was created. Just to many opportunities for corruption in a big centrally controlled government agency. Issue vouchers to the vets and let doctors and hospitals compete for their business.
While your getting that past the administration and lobbyists, I want a pony, a sports car, and a sleazy middle aged blonde.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I think he’s deeply disappointed that bad news didn’t get to him.”
Unsaid: "I know the feeling."

These guys honestly dont know that its not their job to wait for bad news to bubble up to them? You gotta go out and find it- you send people to find it. You HIRE Shiseki to be your guy to go find out whats screwed up and fix it, not wait to hear whats going on. Especially after you specifically campaigned on fixing the VA. What is he literally saying here- 'I knew the VA was a huge mess, so i appointed this general to go over there and wait for people to tell him what theyve been doing wrong?'. Come on, this isnt fun anymore.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Please note the complete abdication of responsibility here. It wasn't the Secretary's fault; "he’s deeply disappointed that bad news didn’t get to him". (To get the bad news, he need only have listened to Senator Obama campaigning on precisely this issue in 2008.)

Please note also the language -- "he said moments before he’d seen the department’s initial review" -- suggesting fast action. but this problem has been festering for years! Obama used it as an issue to get elected, then forgot all about it.

I think it's safe to say that President Obama has spent more time, as President, thinking about basketball than he has about corruption in the VA. Given that he knew about it from the outset, before he was even elected, this is inexcusable.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hello Journalists!
When exchanged happened "Obama was asked at this morning’s news conference is Shinseki was a scapegoat. “Meaning?” Obama replied."
It was your opportunity to say something like "Well, you did campaign on how inefficient the VA is and how you were going to improve it, and that obviously hasn't happened."

But you missed your cue.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
Things won't improve unless the secretary can clean out all the non-medical deadwood. It appears the VA is a nesting place of recalcitrant gummit workers who won't do their jobs and fear no reprisals as they're protected by civil service rules and their union. There needs to be a purge at the top, but also a purge at the bottom.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
This is exactly the issue, well stated.
11 weeks ago
11 weeks ago Link To Comment
Offer us YOUR resignation, Mr. President. Our acceptance will make your ears ring. We will accept it with no regret.
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
I signed in just to LIKE your comment
12 weeks ago
12 weeks ago Link To Comment
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