When President Donald Trump selected Dr. Ronny Jackson to run the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, it was simultaneously surprising and completely predictable.
Jackson’s inexperience at running an agency even close to the size of the department did not disqualify him, it actually made him even more of a perfect fit in Trump’s White House. Trump himself had no governing experience before the election.
Therefore, Jackson’s inexperience mattered little to Trump. The longtime White House physician had the only quality that the president truly values in an employee: loyalty. The doctor’s glowing public review of Trump’s health had won him favor with the president and allowed the two to establish a personal rapport.
When the embattled David Shulkin was fired via tweet, Jackson was the president’s first choice to take over the job.
Before Jackson could be confirmed, however, he needed to pass the Senate confirmation. After all, Betsy DeVos was confirmed and she was a certifiable disaster from the beginning.
With just a little bit of digging, bipartisan senators on the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs found some disturbing allegations concerning Jackson. These allegations included drinking on duty, drunkenly banging on a female employee’s door during an overseas trip, allegedly being nicknamed “Candy Man” for giving out drugs like candy, crashing a government vehicle while intoxicated and more. Needless to say, this is not exactly appropriate behavior. Then again, neither is bragging about sexual assault on an Access Hollywood bus and that did not seem to disqualify his boss.
Jackson’s confirmation hearing was nonetheless postponed in the wake of these reports and eventually, he rescinded his name from contention. The question remains whether Trump’s people took the time to vet him. If they did, surely they would have come upon this information. Perhaps they knew about Jackson’s unsettling past and chose to look the other way.
The president has stuck by his pick thus far, tweeting out his support of the doctor and saying that the senator who uncovered these allegations should resign. Regardless of Trump’s inability to believe allegations of wrongdoing, the question still remains who will be the president’s pick to head up the VA. Perhaps “Pickle”, the famous nine-year-old boy who wants to be friends with Trump, or Frank Giaccio, the 11-year-old boy who mowed Trump’s lawn, may be next in line for the promotion. They both have shown their loyalty to Trump and neither will get in trouble for drinking on the job.
The worst part of this Jackson scandal is not the horrendous workplace behavior but the fact that a man like this was ever nominated in the first place. Trump said at the Republican National Convention in 2016, “We will take care of our great veterans like they have never been taken care of before.” Nominating someone with no experience and a clear disqualifying workplace history is a slap in the face to all those who have served our country.
The veterans deserve better than Jackson. Even more so, they certainly deserve much better than anyone who would think Jackson deserves to head their agency.
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