CNN's King: Maybe Obama's Keeping Shinseki On to 'Catch the Harpoons'

Thursday, 22 May 2014 02:56 PM

By Melissa Clyne

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CNN's John King weighed in on President Obama's decision to keep Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki on the job following allegations that VA hospitals created secret waiting lists of patients to conceal lengthy wait times, resulting in numerous patients dying before they could get an appointment, according to Mediaite.

Administrators allegedly received bonuses for meeting timely care goals.

"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 on CNN's "Inside Politics."

On the show, a panel discussed Obama's Wednesday news conference where he heaped high praise on Shinseki, calling him "a great soldier," while cautioning that he would await the results of investigations before making a final decision on accountability.

"How do I think Rick Shinseki has performed overall?" Obama responded to a question by a Reuters reporter. "I would say that on homelessness, on the 9/11 GI bill, on working with us to reduce the backlog across the board, he has put his heart and soul into this thing and he has taken it very seriously."

Story continues below video.

On "Inside Politics," the National Journal's Ron Fournier castigated the president, calling his leadership "pathetic." He slammed him for campaigning on VA reform in 2008 and taking office knowing the VA required a "radical overhaul," yet "he didn't pay attention, he didn't govern. And now he's holding nobody accountable."

"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, if you saw the president of the United States come out yesterday and say, 'Way to go, Sheki' — you've got a really serious problem.

"The idea they're going to keep this guy on and he comes out after this has been going on for a month?" Fournier said.

When asked if Shinseki had offered to resign, Obama responded that at this stage, Shinseki is "committed to solving the problem."

"He has been a great public servant and a great warrior on behalf of the United States of America and we're going to work with him to solve the problem," the president said.

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