Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Eric Shinseki - VA Secretary

This is so awesome. Remember that Eric Shinseki was the general who correctly told Congress that it would take some 300,000 troops to win the war in Iraq and occupy the country, and for that he was fired by Bush and Rummy. Elevating him to a cabinet position is a wonderful slap in the face to the outgoing administration, and a terrific signal to the military that Obama will not forget those who spoke up and spoke truthfully about the war.


Raised By Republicans said...

I'm interested in hearing from Dr. S and US West why they think he wasn't considered for Secretary of Defense - or was he?

Dr. Strangelove said...

As I understand it, Gates was approached in late October at a secret meeting (at a firehouse, I think?) to see if he would be willing to stay on for a while. I think that was probably always the intention--and they only would have started considering Shinseki if Gates had declined.

There are two reasons why I would not have favored Shinseki for the role of Secretary of Defense anyway. First, there would be friction between him and current top military figures--appointed by Rumsfeld mostly, with some Gates influence. Friction is OK, but clearly Obama wanted smooth continuity at the Defense Department. Second, he is not just ex-military--which is fine--but he is ex military leadership and that's a problem: I would rather see a strong civilian influence continue on the civilian side. (Gates served in the USAF, but has spend a great deal of time in the civilian world.)

USwest said...

There are three main points I want to add to what Dr. S said . . .
1) The importance of the VA to all of us.
2) The role of the VA in larger medical care reform
3) The Equal Employment Opportunity Issues
4) The politics of Gates

1) Importance: The VA isn't just cheap medical care for old veterans. They stand as a lifelong connection between the former solider and military. The VA represented my 88 year old grandfather when he disputed something that was put in his military files 60 years ago that negatively affected his current benefits. His entire file was reviewed and he was given back a rank that had been taken from him. Doesn't matter how long ago it was, they deal with it.

b. The VA has to push faster and harder for medical innovation because of the nature of the injuries that they deal with. The general attitude at the VA is service related, not money driven. That is what medical care needs to be.

c. How veterans are treated will be an important point for public opinion about the Obama Administration as well as a serious measure of its success. Americans, especially in red southern states get really pissed off when veterans aren't given the very best.

2) Reform: With medical costs skyrocketing, Obama's pick is evidence of his dedication to medical care reform. Shinseki is going to be a key player in reforming the medical system in this country by virtue of his position at the VA. They will use the VA as one of the trial grounds for new policies. It is one of the first care providers to use computerized medical records. The lessons learned there will be important for the private sector. The VA is also a form of socialized medicine. There will be lessons learned there, as well.

3) EEO: And all of us who are civil servants are now being reminded by the brass that these guys will be coming home and working with us. We really need a former military man at the VA who can help guide that EEO process for all of us. Dealing with physical handicaps is one thing. But dealing with PTSD issues is another thing entirely.

Shinseki lost part of a foot in Vietnam and stayed on active duty. He's a four star general. He's respected by the troops for his honesty. Don't think that the larger military community has forgotten what he said and what he did. He took the fall for them all with his honesty.

4) Politics: We needed continuity at the Pentagon. The problem over the last four years with the Pentagon is that someone in the bowls of the place gets a brain storm and suddenly everyone has to jump. No one has a long-term strategy because no one is willing to commit the proper amount of time required to follow a long term strategy. So everything is panic mode, it had to be done yesterday. No planning takes place. Under Rummy, the place was run with his "snowflakes"- brief memos and directives that descended from his office on everyone who was expected to respond immediately. It's worse than group think. It's no think. Gates, at the very least, has slowed some of this down.

Also, it is a reminder to voters that Republicans got us into this mess, they should get us out. When we pull out, I promise you, there will be a blood bath in Iraq, I don't care what the media tells us about the sudden "stability" of the current Iraqi government. They are waiting for us to leave. And then there is Iran who will also have some fun once we are gone. There is no sense in leaving the Democrats to take the heat when this happens. Let Gates and his DOD take the fall. It's is political smart.

The Law Talking Guy said...

USWest writes, "Americans, especially in red southern states get really pissed off when veterans aren't given the very best."

I wish that were so. Every bit of indication we have is that the Republicans and Bush screwed the VA over on funding time and again, and the red southern states just keep voting for 'em all the same.

USwest said...

I don't think it is that simple. Keep in mind that we made deep inroads in the South this election. Look how close Georgia was. Consider Virginia. Something other than a demographic shift is happening.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Republicans increased their percentages in Ark, Lousiana, KY, Tennessee, WV, OK - all the areas where military recruitment and tradition is strong.

USwest said...

With the exception of Arkansas, Obama did as well or slightly better than Kerry did in all of the states you mention. And that is with the largest voter turn out in years, tons of first time voters, and with McCain (a strong military figure) as an opponent.

Obama picked up Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina. He did better than Kerry in Georgia (47% to Kerry's 41%), Mississippi (O 43%, K40%), South Carolina (O 45%, K 41%), and Texas (O 44%, K 38% -big military state).

Here is a table showing military recruitment by state in 2004 just for our edification.

USwest said...

Oh, and when you re-arrange that table by Number of recruits, you will find that the only Soutern States in the top 10 are Texas, Flordia, Georgia, and North Carolina.

The largest recruitment was in California followed by Texas.

I only wish I had the time to run the per captia numbers!

So, while LTG is probably correct that the V.A. issues aren't on the top of the list now, I believe they are going to matter more as we starting pulling out of Iraq and the injured start coming home and re-integrating back into society.

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