Topics: Veterans Affairs

Why Eric Shinseki shouldn't lose his job as Veterans Affairs secretary

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,White House,Barack Obama,Veterans Affairs,Veterans,Charles Hoskinson,Eric Shinseki

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is fighting for his job a day after dodging tough questioning from both Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee.

Meanwhile, new reports have surfaced of "secret" waiting lists at VA medical facilities -- the latest in Gainesville, Fla., where three mental health administrators were placed on administrative leave, the Ocala Star-Banner reported Thursday.

All this adds up to new pressure on President Obama to fire Shinseki. But that would be a bad idea.

It's true that Shinseki has shown a disturbing passivity to widespread reports that delays in care at veterans hospitals and efforts to cover them up by manipulating paperwork has jeopardized the safety of patients and potentially led to deaths. When Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, pressed him on why no one had been fired, Shinseki responded: “There is a process here, Senator. Let me not get out ahead of it.”

Making him into a scapegoat may help Obama and other Democrats dodge accountability for what may be the most politically dangerous scandal facing the administration. But it won't solve the problem — far from it.

In fact, firing Shinseki is likely to draw media attention away from the issue and take the pressure off Obama -- who also has been disturbingly passive -- to solve it.

It would be better if Obama behaved like the president he's supposed to be, and Shinseki like the Army general he used to be, and both showed some leadership. Demand answers, act on what they learn and hold people accountable for their failures — in public.

It's not that complicated.

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