The White House offered tepid support Thursday for embattled Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, skirting questions on whether he’ll soon be fired.
White House press secretary Jay Carney repeatedly sidestepped questions about whether Shinseki retained the confidence of the president.
Carney said the president believed Shinseki had “performed overall well” and “put his heart and soul” into providing care for veterans. But he also emphasized that the president was waiting to see the results of an internal investigation led by White House deputy chief of staff Rob Nabors.
“When it comes to the current situation, the inquiries and the investigations and some of the allegations, the president wants to see the results of these reports,” Carney said. “And he, as you know, made clear that he believes there ought to be accountability once we establish all the facts.”
The White House knew Carney’s briefing would be dominated by questions surrounding Shinseki, who many observers think will be gone from the Veterans Affairs Department by the end of the week.(The Hill)
Considering the groundswell at present, one wonders how Gen. Shinseki made it this far, given both what we know about the current VA scandal and the VA Inspector General’s report, released late Wednesday night. The irony here is two-fold: (1)this is but another in a long line of scandals regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs and (2)it begs the question as to why this administration has not – yet, anyways – fired Gen. Shinseki yet. For what it’s worth, the answer to the second part is this: given the embittered politics in Washington at present, its’ a no-win situation for President Obama in regards to the VA secretary – if he fires Shinseki, he gives his political opponents ammunition to use both against Shinseki’s successor and against Democrats nationally; if he doesn’t fire him – or worse, doesn’t fire him right away, he gives them the same political ammunition as before, plus it puts Democrats trying to hold onto seats nationally in the politically difficult position of having to either defend Obama’s choice or turning on him and calling it out on it, which then puts those Democrats at risk of upsetting their base, which then hurts them at election time.
My advice to the administration: get Secy. Shinseki out as soon as possible but do so in a manner that doesn’t appear like you’re throwing him under the proverbial bus.