With VA, Obama management style under fire again
May 21st, 2014
09:54 AM ET
7 months ago

With VA, Obama management style under fire again

Washington (CNN) - The White House is once again brushing aside questions about President Barack Obama's management style.

Amid the growing scandal over the apparent cover-up of patient wait times at some Veterans Affairs facilities, Republicans and even some Democrats have complained Obama's public posture has been detached, relying too heavily on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor blasted the President after White House press secretary Jay Carney disclosed that Obama first learned of the crisis at the VA from news reports, including an investigative story on troubles at a VA facility in Phoenix aired on CNN.

“I will tell you, I am disturbed by statements out of the White House that say that the President heard about this in the news,” Cantor told reporters Tuesday. “It is time for our president to come forward and take responsibility for this and do the right thing by these veterans."

At the White House press briefing Tuesday, Carney sought to clarify his remarks, insisting the President has known about wait time issues at the VA for years.

But Carney declined to specify exactly when the President first learned of the concealing of wait times at VA facilities.

"I would urge you to wait for the investigation," Carney said.

White House officials argue Obama has fought to increase funding for veterans care ever since he first ran for the presidency, when he promised to build a "21st century VA."

"We can go over the record of support for our veterans since President Obama took office, the request for additional funding that the President has made every year he’s been in office for the VA," Carney said.

"Our focus on - the President’s focus isn’t on glib rejoinders," Carney added in response to Cantor's comments.

But one of Obama's longtime supporters, Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, a wounded veteran herself, suggested Tuesday the President could be more engaged in the VA crisis.

“I think he’s relied on Secretary Shinseki, but we could use his personal attention at this point,” Duckworth said in an interview with the Washington Post.

The President has been caught off guard by failures inside his administration before. Last October, Obama struggled to contain a crisis in confidence when the government web site, healthcare.gov, could barely function. The President only became aware of the site's woes after it was launched.

Just as Obama stood by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius during the botched rollout and the eventual repair of Healthcare.gov, the President remains confident, at least publicly, in VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.

"The President has confidence in Secretary Shinseki," Carney finally said after being pressed by reporters Monday.

In another parallel to the debacle at HHS, in which trusted administration official Jeffrey Zeints was tapped to fix Healthcare.gov, Obama has turned to his deputy chief of staff, Rob Nabors to assist the VA in its investigation. Nabors is scheduled to visit the Phoenix VA facility and meet with officials there Thursday.

The President is scheduled to meet with Shinseki and Nabors at the White House at 10am ET Wednesday morning to discuss the VA, with Obama making a public statement on the controversy at 10:45am.

Republican critics see a pattern of poor governance.

"This is a campaign that was very good at messaging, but they have no competence in terms of governing,” Rubio told Fox News Tuesday night. "They're more concerned about what they're going to say than what they're going to do."


Filed under: President Obama • Veterans • Veterans Affairs
soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Tommy G

    Obama? A management style?? Is this a joke?!! Managers know what is going on because they are engaged and responsible. Obama from his own admission, only finds out what is going on in his administration by reading the news papers.

    Managers hold people accountable for their failures, which means they may get fired. Obama nevers fires anybody for their screw ups. Quite to the contrary, you are more likely to get a bonus and a promotion so you will keep your mouth shut.

    It is pretty clear Obama is either totally clueless about what his job is or simply just doesn't care enough to do it. He certainly has no problem managing all of his vacations, golf outings, celebrity events and campaign fund raisers. Why is he such a failure at leading the government?

    May 21, 2014 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  2. TONE

    I am a vet, and i think that civilians should not handle veterans affairs, because they do not understand vets wouldn't get results with the same sense of urgency that a veteran working at the va would give no offense to civilians more vets need to work at the va, and things will be much better.

    May 21, 2014 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. sonny chapman

    Obama could always adopt W's style; "Doing a heckuva job Brownie". Or Rove's style-how can we screw a Dem Governor & make a Repub Governor look good;never mind those folks stuck on their roofs,we'll eventually get to 'em.

    May 21, 2014 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  4. yeahright

    old age voter
    Since when did golfing; vacationing; fund raising; lying; misleading the American people become a management style.
    -------

    Plenty of all of the above went on during the last administration, who I am guessing, you wholeheartedly approved of.
    Now watch this drive.....................

    May 21, 2014 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  5. death panels exist in government healthcare

    Well, we now know that government healthcare DOES have death panels known as wait lists. Obamacare will result int he very same thing. Of course, it won't be called a death panel or a death list, but the result will be exactly that.

    Look at what socialized medicine is doing in the UK:

    Waiting times at five-year high in British National Health Service

    Thousands of patients across the UK are facing long delays, exceeding the national target of treatment within 18 weeks of a problem being identified.

    Waiting times for National Health Service (NHS) treatment now stand at a five-year high. NHS England, the public body charged with overseeing delivery and implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, has revealed that 240,000 patients in England within the last 12 months have been added to the ever growing waiting list—2.9 million people across the UK.

    In 2012, 52,000 patients were denied common procedures such as cataract operations and varicose veins treatment as a result of cuts to the NHS. In Wales, NHS health boards are reported to have cancelled more than 13,000 operations over the last three years largely due to bed shortages and lack of staff.

    May 21, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  6. Silence DoGood

    @Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    Silence DoGood
    @Dutch/Bad Newz, VA – Take Back the House
    President Obama has done more for veterans and the VA than his predecessor ever did.
    ––
    And #1 was not sending them to invade the wrong country and die. That was good.
    -----------
    Precisely. It makes you wonder would all of these problems at the VA be occurring if we weren't engaged in a war of choice.
    ----------
    I would say "war of mistake" rather than "choice". People are questioning why Obama wasn't more aware of the VA issues. Bush missed the VA issues AND invaded the wrong country AND created a lot more Vets (except the ones that died – 4000) to stress the broken system!

    May 21, 2014 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  7. smith1

    everyone should know by now that the president weights a lot of information before making a statement unlike the repo knee jerk responses of the looney right. It is not like the republicans care . One more issue that they can use to fund raise. It is obvious that tommy g is clueless as to what a manager is. Everyone who has worked closely with the president say;s he is thorough and asks more questions and expects response from all in the room. If he does not know enough about a subject he gets experts and studies the problem. Unlike repos who rush to judgment and want to fight with everyone

    May 21, 2014 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Rick McDaniel

    You don't have to be very smart to see this was a policy, set at the top. Both Obama and Shinseki knew about this, because they agreed on the POLICY of it. When it happens in multiple locations, and clearly was a designed policy, those at the top are the ones who SET that policy.

    May 21, 2014 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  9. barryinlasvegas

    What management style? He finds out what is going on in his administration by reading about it in the papers – so he says.

    May 21, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  10. Thomas

    @Tommy G
    Obama? A management style?? Is this a joke?!! Managers know what is going on because they are engaged and responsible. Obama from his own admission, only finds out what is going on in his administration by reading the news papers.

    Managers hold people accountable for their failures, which means they may get fired. Obama nevers fires anybody for their screw ups. Quite to the contrary, you are more likely to get a bonus and a promotion so you will keep your mouth shut.

    It is pretty clear Obama is either totally clueless about what his job is or simply just doesn't care enough to do it. He certainly has no problem managing all of his vacations, golf outings, celebrity events and campaign fund raisers. Why is he such a failure at leading the government?

    ===========

    Sounds like your including Cris Christy's managerial skills in your analogy .

    And GW Bush for not finding WMDs in Iraq , or maybe his statement that the American economy is strong back in late 2007.

    May 21, 2014 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    tom l

    Alison Grimes said in her speech last night that Barack Obama is not on the ballot. We'll see if she's right or wrong.
    -------------------------------–
    Don't you mean Mitch McConnell? She was responding to McConnell's insinuation that Obama is on the ballot.

    Why don't you ever tell the whole story, instead of cherry picking out "facts" that fit your narrative?

    May 21, 2014 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Tommy G

    Obama? A management style?? Is this a joke?!! Managers know what is going on because they are engaged and responsible. Obama from his own admission, only finds out what is going on in his administration by reading the news papers.
    -----------------------------
    If what you say now is true, then what you have said in the past about Obama being some sort of tyrannical dictator just simply cannot possibly be true. Sorry, you cannot have it both ways.

    "Nice try, but you gotcha self."

    May 21, 2014 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  13. bubba, loyal republican

    So after ten steps of explaining, his last is a cover up of a situation he just took ten steps to explain, only in gop ville, no wonder their talking points make sense to him.

    May 21, 2014 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  14. N86RM

    Obama said, "I will not tolerate it, period."

    So we now know he is lying.

    PERIOD!

    May 21, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  15. bubba, loyal republican

    Smith 1, that's the difference between actually trying to solve an issue, and exploiting it for financial gain .

    May 21, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  16. Silence DoGood

    @Rudy NYC
    Tommy G

    Obama? A management style?? Is this a joke?!! Managers know what is going on because they are engaged and responsible. Obama from his own admission, only finds out what is going on in his administration by reading the news papers.
    ---------–
    If what you say now is true, then what you have said in the past about Obama being some sort of tyrannical dictator just simply cannot possibly be true. Sorry, you cannot have it both ways.

    "Nice try, but you gotcha self."
    -------------
    Good call Rudy!
    Classic conservative changing landscape of facts:
    Obama is inept and clueless and cannot do anything BUT has pulled off a complete dictatorship coup take over perfectly
    Clinton is sick and old and brain diseased BUT has pulled off the most complete brilliant cover up in history
    The drone memo release is unimportant BUT is crucial for all Americans to see (Rand Paul – today)

    May 21, 2014 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  17. sonny chapman

    Hector Slagg- Check your Post & point out any FACTS.

    May 21, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  18. bubba, loyal republican

    Tommy, pulling our country out of the worst recession in nearly a hundred years, and not only doing it without help, he had to overcome complete obstruction, where were we when we got done with eight years of Republican rule, nah, your not blind, but, I'll be.damned, your a Republican, too funny!

    May 21, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  19. Sniffit

    "Well, we now know that government healthcare DOES have death panels known as wait lists. "

    Aaaaw, how cute, parroting Rush Limbaugh's demagoguery already. Would you like to type out the whole transcript from today's show for us instead of just the return of the death panels rhetoric?

    May 21, 2014 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  20. Tommy G

    smith1
    everyone should know by now that the president weights a lot of information before making a statement unlike the repo knee jerk responses of the looney right. It is not like the republicans care . One more issue that they can use to fund raise. It is obvious that tommy g is clueless as to what a manager is. Everyone who has worked closely with the president say;s he is thorough and asks more questions and expects response from all in the room. If he does not know enough about a subject he gets experts and studies the problem. Unlike repos who rush to judgment and want to fight with everyone
    -–

    And yet this is the FIFTH TIME a scandal has broken involving HIS administration and the official response was "he first heard about it in the newspaper". You would think that by now, after FIVE TIMES, after 5.5 YEARS, he would have made sure he knew what was going on.

    But thanks to the wonder of video tape we DO know that he knew about the VA problems because he gave speeches about getting it fixed. So it appears we are being lied to once again by the Liar of the Year.

    May 21, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  21. Lizzie

    Obama then (2009)..."We're going to challenge each of our 57 regional VA offices to come up with the best ways of doing business, of harnessing the best information technologies, of cutting red tape and breaking through the bureaucracy. And then we're going to fund the best ideas and put them into action, all with a simple mission: cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, deliver your benefits sooner. (Applause.) I know you've heard this for years, but the leadership and resources we're providing this time means that we're going to be able to do it. That is our mission, and we are going to make it happen"
    Obama now......(Crickets)

    May 21, 2014 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  22. Sniffit

    "Look at what socialized medicine is doing in the UK:"

    1. Good thing we don't have anything that could even remotely be characterized as "socialized medicine" unless you're a lying ideologue talking point parrot who doesn't have the first clue what socialism is.

    2. Good thing we don't have anything even remotely similar to Britain's particular health care system.

    3. Single payer systems all over the world are working better than ours was prior to the ACA (the facts are undeniable)...and will continue to do so after the ACA, because the ACA still plays the game of allowing a private middle-man gatekeeper to rape your wallet before you can get any treatment.

    May 21, 2014 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
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