Breaking: Obama to speak after Shinseki meeting; Update: Shinseki out

posted at 11:17 am on May 30, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

At first, I assumed that a lack of leaks during the first part of the Eric Shinseki meeting meant that the embattled VA Secretary would keep his job, especially since the White House hadn’t scheduled a presser to follow it. That’s changed, though, with the sudden call to the Briefing Room. Obama will speak shortly, and CBS News already has the live feed running:

And… Shinseki’s out:

Update: Sloan Gibson will take over as interim VA Secretary, but the bigger question will be for Obama. Why not make this change last week, instead of waiting nine extra days to hear the obvious? Why hold last week’s presser?

Update: First question was about what happened to Obama’s confidence in Shinseki, expressed just last week? “Ric’s judgment,” apparently meaning that Obama didn’t ask for his resignation.

Update: “We’ve got to deal with Congress,” Obama said to explain that Shinseki would likely be distracted by Congressional demands for his resignation. This is the same Congress that increased the VA budget by 78% over the past six budget cycles.  Shinseki was also “offended” that bad news didn’t get to him fast enough, Obama said, and used the passive voice to explain that “the structures didn’t exist” to deliver it. Er, Shinseki was in charge for more than five years. Whose fault was that?

Update: Obama, when asked about his own responsibility, notes that he’s been talking about since he was in the Senate, but then denied that warnings about wait-list fraud never reached the executive level at the VA or the White House. The transition team was warned before Obama took office about that very problem, and warnings continued through last year.

Raffi Williams makes a good point:

After five-plus years, ignorance of the problems on which Obama ran for President in 2008 is a particularly cynical excuse.

Update: Reason’s Jesse Walker makes a good point:

Update: Presser over, but Obama left the dais as the White House press corps asked him, “Do you owe an apology?” That’s a pretty good question, as opposed to the final question which asked Obama whether Shinseki was getting scapegoated.

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Could someone explain something to me? I have always heard the VA medical is a nightmare…forever. My Dad was a vet and never considered going to the VA for medical reasons

So, why all of the hoopla now? I’m confused

Redford on May 30, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Is this real?

Key West Reader on May 30, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Yes it is a real question. VA medical care has always SUCKED. So, is the increase of vets needing constant due to paper cuts or what? I don’t remember this problem after previous wars. Ask a few WWII veterans

Redford on May 30, 2014 at 5:18 PM

But there is a difference between a support function in Germany, for instance, and one in combat zones.

jimbo 56 on May 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM

A US soldier was killed in Germany just 2 years ago on the Autobahn. The military convoy he was riding in was rear-ended by a large truck. And a US military helicopter crashed in Germany in 2010, killing 2 soldiers.

Also in 2012, 3 US soldiers in a non combat zone were killed in a car accident. They were in Mali.

All of those killed were not in combat zones. But all of them were in support functions.

Keep shovelin’.

Del Dolemonte on May 30, 2014 at 5:42 PM

In 1968 I was a young 1Lt in Viet Nam. My Company Commander just left for RR and I took over as Acting CO. No big thing. We were in Saigon and all was well, until the TET Offensive started. The title of Acting was dropped and the whole ball of wax was mine along with orders to move the unit the best we could through Saigon to the docks load on LST’s, fight a typhoon and make our was north near the DMZ. We beached the LST’s under fire and made our way to our new Group HQ. Under fire and great confusion as we try to integrate with the other units, a young PFC comes up to his new Company Commander and said “Sir I don’t have any toilet paper”. My first impression was to place my hands around his throat and squeeze. Then I realized what it was to be in command and that it was my job to see that he got is toilet paper. For many years that lesson has served me well. I am sorry for paper tigers like Shinseki and Obama that never had the chance to learn that lesson.

Yes I got him his toilet paper.

jpcpt03 on May 30, 2014 at 6:03 PM

Thanks all for the comments. I meant my questions and comments seriously. As to being condensending (sic) in some way, they weren’t meant that way. I answered questions that were asked.

And I didn’t mean to imply that support functions were only in the US. But there is a difference between a support function in Germany, for instance, and one in combat zones.

jim56 on May 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM

I served 3 tours in the FRG from 78-81(Armor), 82-85(Aerial Surveillance/OV-1D Mohawk), & 88-92(Armor/S-1 & S-3)….You have absolutely no clue what you are talking about vis-à-vis ANY support function(s) within the military, and frankly I have neither the patience or desire to instruct and inform you….

tanked59 on May 30, 2014 at 6:13 PM

Our TI DID request that we not giggle at the new male recruits after they left the barbershop…it was bad for their egos, and they were having a hard enough time as it was.

Newtie and the Beauty on May 30, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Air Force, Right? That whole requesting things of raw recruits pretty much gave it away. ;0

Happy Nomad on May 30, 2014 at 5:00 PM

I thought it was “TI” (Training Instructor?) that gave it away.

Marines have Drill Instructors.
Army has Drill Sergeants.
Not sure about the Navy.

malclave on May 30, 2014 at 6:54 PM

a young PFC comes up to his new Company Commander and said “Sir I don’t have any toilet paper”

Well, when he asked his platoon sergeant that, he was probably told to raise his hand and look at it…

malclave on May 30, 2014 at 6:57 PM

Parents of Vet Treated at Phoenix VA Facility Read His Suicide Note on Air

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin broke down on air Friday afternoon as the parents of Iraq War veteran Daniel Somers read his suicide letter. Somers wrote in the note that the VA failed him.

Somers was a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and served in over 400 combat missions. He suffered from fibromyalgia and PTSD and killed himself last year after he received treatment from the Phoenix VA hospital. He wrote that his body had become “nothing but a cage, a source of pain and constant problems.”

Somers’ parents read an excerpt of his suicide note on CNN Friday afternoon: “Is it any wonder then that the latest figures show 22 veterans killing themselves each day? That is more veterans than children killed at Sandy Hook every single day. Where are the huge policy initiatives? Why isn’t the president standing with those families at the State of the Union? Perhaps because we were not killed by a single lunatic but rather by our system of dehumanization, neglect, and indifference.”

It took three months for Somers to receive initial treatment because the VA was confused over his status as a member of the National Guard. He was shuffled around the system, going from the Phoenix VA hospital to a Department of Defense hospital before the Phoenix VA finally agreed to give him care.

“He was only seen because we had a connection at the facility and they were able to let him in,” said Howard Somers, his father.

Resist We Much on May 30, 2014 at 7:19 PM

As I said in the Mathews post,Shinseki was fired because the dems. can’t afford to lose the Vet vote.Also this is what gov’t. run healthcare looks like.Not pretty.This joke in the white house and the drones in the administration got an earful from constituents and especially vulnerable dem pols that “something must be done”…fast..I just hope it doesn’t get swept under the carpet

falsecast on May 30, 2014 at 7:29 PM

But there is a difference between a support function in Germany, for instance, and one in combat zones.

jimbo 56 on May 30, 2014 at 5:03 PM

One of my Dad’s final duty postings in the Coast Guard 50 years ago was as Executive Officer (second-in-command) of a US Coast Guard Cutter. As XO, he was basically a paper pusher, so according to your world view, the worst danger he could have gotten into was injury by paper cut or paper clip.

However, his ship was a Weather Ship, stationed in the stormy North Atlantic Ocean. When on “Ocean Station”, they spent 3 weeks at a time patrolling a single grid. Besides sending in weather readings they also used their radio transmitters as beacons to help guide commercial flights between America and Europe. So all of the weather people there were also paper pushers?

In the winter, the crew had to knock ice off the ship’s outer surfaces to keep the weight of the ice from capsizing it. They did so with Louisville Sluggers.

The last such ship was only retired a few years ago, as they became obsolete after the development of hi-tech Weather Buoys as well as GPS.

But, were they in combat? Yes, they were. With the weather.

Shovel away!

Del Dolemonte on May 30, 2014 at 9:02 PM

I have never respond directly to some ones postings on hot air BUT this time I must say something to the malclave postings. If I had a Platoon sergeant that would not take the problems of a PFC in his command seriously then I would have little use for that Platoon Sergeant. That is what has gotten the VA in so much trouble. As a Company Commander I would have limited legal authority over the Platoon Sergeant BUT I would make sure that the PFC got Mess Duty to serve the Platoon Sergeants next meal.

jpcpt03 on May 30, 2014 at 9:11 PM

As a Company Commander I would have limited legal authority over the Platoon Sergeant BUT I would make sure that the PFC got Mess Duty to serve the Platoon Sergeants next meal.

jpcpt03 on May 30, 2014 at 9:11 PM

Well, it was mostly a joke… and while I knew a few sergeants who might say something like that, they would also have taken steps to address the issue.

malclave on May 30, 2014 at 9:29 PM

The press made a huge deal about what Palin read. WTH is Obama reading?

HellCat on June 1, 2014 at 12:27 AM

0bamanation! She never took responsibility for anything or did anything responsibly in her miserable little girl life, clutching tightly to husband Michelle’s strong arm to save her.

russedav on June 2, 2014 at 2:21 PM