CNN Host: Obama Keeping VA Sec. to 'Catch the Harpoons for a While'

May 22, 2014 - 9:34 AM

Host John King of CNN's Inside Politics wondered aloud this morning if President Obama is keeping Veteran Affairs Secretary General Shinseki on to absorb the fallout from the investigations of the V.A., saying, "If my boss ever said that about me publicly, I'd be gone - out the door in a second..."

"It sounded to me more like, 'Well, we've got this investigation going on and I'm going to keep this guy around to catch the harpoons for a while' and then he's gone," King said.

"Sure, the president certainly left the door open to the possibility that Shinseki could be out," Julie Pace from the Associated Press said. "I think he almost had to do that. But there is a view that unless something comes out of these reports, these reviews that are underway, that directly implicates Shinseki, that the White House is going to err on the side of leaving him in this job to oversee this process. There are a lot of people who would argue this is a guy that has had five and a half years to oversee this process and we're still dealing with this.

"But the White House would be in the position of having a really tough confirmation hearing in a midterm election year on an issue that is becoming deeply political," Pace added; "And I think they're weighing that concern as well."

"That is their view, and it's pathetic," said Ron Fournier of the National Journal. "The President came in to office knowing that this was a systemic problem..."

"He campaigned on this, in 2008," John King interrupted. "And the Bush administration, the problems were there, and they warned him during the transition, they said 'here's a problem we're passing on to you.'"

"And he knew it was going to get much worse because he was winding down the wars, as he promised to do," Fournier said. "And he knew this had to be radical overhaul, not around the edges, and what did [Obama] do? Like he's done with a lot of other things, he didn't pay attention. He didn't govern."

"If you're an American sitting out there and you know a veteran, which most of us do - if you drive by a VA, which most of us do - if you like to have your government actually function, and you saw the President of the United States come out yesterday and say, 'Way to go, Sheki' - you've got a really serious problem," Fournier concluded. "And the idea that they're going to keep this guy on and he comes out after this has been going on for a month?"