With VA, Obama management style under fire again
May 21st, 2014
09:54 AM ET
8 years 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.

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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. Lynda/Minnesota

    This is a great opportunity for GOPerville to put down the gloves and actually work with this administration to improve the care we give to our veterans. This is a good time for the Obama administration to work with GOPerville to improve the care we give to our veterans.

    Now. It's been a long time coming. Too long.

    It is a win-win for both parties. Will anything be accomplished? Judging by Rubio's comments; probably not.

    May 21, 2014 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  2. Hector Slagg

    The man has been on a constant campaign and had no time to be "President" Obama talked a good game but as many have already said he wasn't up to the job. Leading from behind is a apt description of Obama and the current Administration. The man needs to go.

    May 21, 2014 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  3. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Lynda my friend.... I'll sum it up in one word.. NO. Are you serious? They are winning this war. The MSM parrots everything they say. Therefore it is true. I give up. Yep everything is President Obama's fault. He came into office with a robust economy and he has ruined it all on his own. The GOP have done any and everything they can to help but his arrogance won't allow it.
    Did I cover everything???
    Oh yeah... Benghazi.

    May 21, 2014 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  4. old age voter

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

    May 21, 2014 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  5. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA - Take Back the House

    President Obama has done more for veterans and the VA than his predecessor ever did.

    May 21, 2014 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    Did I cover everything???
    Oh yeah... Benghazi.

    Indeed you did. Today we have clouds. Obama's fault. Tomorrow we might have a bit of sun. GOPerville on a roll. Yes, I understand it all and have lived with it.

    Thing is ... we're talking veterans. I've yet to see the patriotism for our vets from the right. They (the right) moans, it groans, it whines. But what exactly has the right been doing for the past 5 & 1/2 years (for our vets or anyone else for that matter)?

    Oh, they yell "HELL NO" and stomp their feet. But accomplishments of their own? They have none.

    Obama's gig is nearly up and yet they still haven't accepted him. It isn't Obama who is the downfall of "their" America. It is they themselves who have caused the most damage.

    All this being said ... I really DO want both parties to come together for our vets. Such a minor request all things considered ... yes?

    May 21, 2014 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Thomas Harold Richards

    ObamaFail Policy and Procedure:
    1. Act surprised
    2. Blame
    3. Show fake anger
    4. Blame
    5. Deny any involvement or previous knowledge
    6. Blame
    7. Distract
    8. Diminish the severity of issue
    9. Claim that something will be done about
    10. Blame the victims
    11. Bury the story

    May 21, 2014 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  8. Marty

    I think CNN mean the Sgt. Schultz management style. " I know nothing"!!!

    May 21, 2014 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  9. Silence DoGood

    For those who care about Vets the priorities:
    – find a way to fix the system in a bipartisan way
    – investigate and assign appropriate blame
    What the GOP will actually do:
    – blame Obama before facts are known
    – nothing else – you can forget the forget the vets again once (like Bush) you have used them as political fodder

    May 21, 2014 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  10. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    It will never happen Lynda. Not as long as HE is in office. They are ensuring that all POTUS's from now on look like the previous ones. They have done nothing since he was elected except question his intelligence, his birth, his ability to lead. They have gone to other countries and berated him. They are on tv every single day saying nothing but negativity about him. Whenever he accomplishes anything, it's questioned. From ordering the hit on OBL to the monthly jobs reports. He is not allowed to vacation like every other POTUS in history, nor should he be flying in AF1, like all other POTUS's.

    As for the vets, the GOP could care less because they know, most will still support them, especially with this POTUS in office.

    These people are destroying America while placing the blame squarely at his feet. And they have absolutely no qualms about it. After all the Harvard/ Columbia educated lawyer is unqualified to be POTUS but an optometrist is.

    Gotta love Amurikkka!! Woo hoo!

    May 21, 2014 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. 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.

    May 21, 2014 11:00 am at 11:00 am |

    How did Bush 43 learn about the 9/11 attacks? Could it be while and or when the attacks were broadcast by news media?



    May 21, 2014 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  13. R-OH

    According to TIME mag. First thing tech guys noticed was lack of leadership in botched healthcare website. This keeps repeating itself over and over with obama. But nonthinking idiot liberals continue to defend their dear leader. Liberals will be swept out of senate and white house into the dust of history!

    May 21, 2014 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Liberals will be swept out of senate and white house into the dust of history!"

    No doubt sweeping America off the map right along with them.

    May 21, 2014 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  15. johnny mathis

    I would like to say that the VA has decreased the back log of claims by a great %......The only reason the claims decreased is because they denied most of them and now the appeals back log has increased more ........nice work to make the VA look good on how they are lowering the backlog......Its bad when the C&P doctor that we see says cant not work and they still turn down the claim forcing the veteran to appeal the decision and wait 2 years on another reason for the wait...................................................

    May 21, 2014 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  16. CryBabies

    @ Southern Hottie...He heard it from his aide while talking to elementary children. ???????????? FIFY

    May 21, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  17. Sniffit

    Oh whatever. Had he been making speeches and howling about it, the GOPers/Teatrolls would have just complained about "all he does is make speeches." No matter what he does, the GOP/Teatrolls are going to feed the MSM complaints and criticisms to stir the nontroversy pot and the MSM is going to broadcast it all on their behalf for free and without an ounce of critical thinking or factual analysis to accompany it. BORING.

    May 21, 2014 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  18. johnny mathis

    Now he said to the veterans .......Wait another week for a study of the VA........WAIT WAIT WAIT I thought that was the problem for the past 5 years

    May 21, 2014 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  19. Anonymous


    I think CNN mean the Sgt. Schultz management style. " I know nothing"!!!


    This article isn't about chris christie!

    May 21, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  20. PaulCat

    Just think !!!!!!!!!!!!

    If he had people in congress that were willing to work with him and not to make sure he was a one time president, we would be so much better off. But they just can not let a black man in a white house make any kind of progress. They would rather see the U.S. fail first.
    ____BOTTOM LINE_____

    May 21, 2014 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  21. 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.

    May 21, 2014 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. TONE

    The Gop send us to war to die so that they can get richer with oil from Iraq, those who did not die but were injured came back to no jobs, republicans voted down an education bill to help vets,and those who could not find work they voted to cut their food stamps, and unemployment benefits so don't give me this crap that it's Obama's fault everything wrong with America today is the GOP's fault.

    May 21, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  23. Gurgyl

    Stop this VA bs. Benghazi not workable, nor Obamacare, nor birth certificate. Ha!!!

    May 21, 2014 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  24. jimmy43d2

    The President has thrown down the challenge. These reporters that say "they speak for the vet", horse patooey! The secretary has some big cajones! And I agree, if he can't do the job, he will resign. As a retired vet, I have met a number of officers who I thought were great leaders, and many went on to become those leaders. I believe he will do what is best for the vet, not what the reporters say when they (the reporters.) say "they speak for the vet", they do not speak for me!.

    May 21, 2014 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. Marie MD

    Where was anyone since the 60s? While very much needed and taken care of nothing seems to be "bad" about anything until this administration.
    Considering that it has gotten worse since shrub #43 why just now?
    The teaklans are the ones who have cut money to the veterans, just like shutting down the government then making an appearance to pretend they care.

    May 21, 2014 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
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