Saturday, May 31, 2014

Veterans’ Crisis Put Obama on the Defensive as Others Failed to Do

By PETER BAKER, NYT
MAY 30, 2014

WASHINGTON — This time, President Obama did not wait. Confronted by reports of mismanagement and besieged by members of his own party, he gave in to the pressure and performed the sort of ritual Washington sacrifice he has resisted in other times of crisis over the last five years.

The quick exit of Eric Shinseki, the Department of Veterans Affairs secretary, on Friday suggested that the president was unwilling to endure the long political nightmare of the health care website debacle last fall when he stubbornly hung on to his health and human services secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, for months before finally accepting her resignation long after the damage was done.

In part, the disparate response reflected the bruising lessons of the health care episode. But it also underscored the more fundamental danger to Mr. Obama as he once again finds himself on the defensive over issues of basic management of the federal government. For a president who came to office hoping to restore public faith in government as a force for good in society, the mess at the Department of Veterans Affairs threatens to undercut his reputation for effectiveness.

(More here.)

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