Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Ineffective Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert “Battlefield Bob” McDonald Awarded the Prestigious Four Pinocchios by the Washington Post for Lying to the Nation

Updated 6 August 2015

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert "Battlefield Bob" McDonald is not only a consummate liar but he’s just too arrogant and full of himself to be effective.  One thing is for sure, he has “gone native” and become part of the VA bureaucracy he was appointed to reform.  His arrogance was “on parade” at the 11 February Congressional hearing on his agency’s budget when he got ­defensive and snapped at Rep Mike Coffman ­(R-CO) when he CORRECTLY suggested McDonald had accomplished little in his first six months on the job. Coffman accurately accused McDonald of “glossing over” the problems that still plague services for veterans and said he thinks McDonald “will not have made a difference in changing the culture” by the end of the Obama administration.


“I ran a large company, sir, what have you done?” McDonald said to in a heated exchange.  In all fairness, McDonald was CEO of Procter & Gamble but Coffman had founded a successful property-management firm and served as Colorado’s secretary of state and treasurer before being elected to Congress in 2009.  He also had two combat tours as a Marine!

Then on NBC “Meet the Press” on 15 Feb. 2015 “Battlefield Bob” uttered this lie:  “Nine hundred people have been fired since I became secretary. We’ve got 60 people that we fired who have manipulated wait times.”

Thankfully, within days Washington Post Fact Checker Michelle Ye Hee Lee blew the whistle on “Battlefield Bob” and awarded him the prestigious Four Pinocchios for wildly inflating his “firing” statistics.

The WaPo pointed out that the VA is the largest non-military Cabinet agency with more than 340,000 employees (as of September 2014) so even if 900 employees were fired, they accounted for less than 0.3 percent of all VA employees. Plus, in fiscal year 2013, there were 2,247 VA employees fired in that one year -- two and half times more than McDonald’s 900 figure and before a massive systemic problem was found – and that is about the VA’s normal annual dismissals for misconduct such as insubordination and chronic absenteeism.

6 August 2015 Update - Since this article was posted, almost Six Months has elapsed and Michelle Ye Hee Lee has done a follow-up where she Fact Checked a 20 July 2015 Statement by Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush where in a speech he stated "only two people had been fired for lying about the wait times."  After the Fact Checker's extensive research she affirmed that Jeb got it CORRECT and awarded him a Geppetto Checkmark although she did note that by the time of her 6 August article that number has risen to THREE!  See below where her 6 Aug is posted.

Remember, two days after McDonald took office Congress passed legislation authorizing him to expedite disciplinary actions for senior executives. It was notoriously difficult to fire senior executives at the VA — at a one-fourth rate than the firing rate for all federal agencies -- so the goal was to allow the VA chief to replace bad actors quickly, especially ones connected to the scandal. 

In his “Meet the Press” interview, McDonald lied when he said 60 employees who manipulated wait times were fired.  Actually, as of his 15 February TV appearance only eight employees had been removed and even this is misleading because all except one were low level employees and he had used his new personnel authority to remove senior executives only once to fire someone for anything related to the VA scandal — that one was James Talton, director of Central Alabama’s VA.

Hence, with seven (7) months on the job, McDonald has done little to fix the VA scandals and seems more interested in protecting the VA workforce than rooting out the deadwood. This is what you get when you select faux-Vets like "Battlefield Bob" McDonald and  “Slow to Combat” Slone Gibson as VA Secretary and Deputy Secretary; just what we need to “help” and “lead” our troops after we’ve been engaged in protracted combat for the past 14 years. Both are West Pointers that bailed out of uniform the very second they could after the payback time for their free education - without ever even serving in a combat zone let alone hearing a shot fired in anger.  Neither even bothered to remain in the Army Reserve as doing so might someday subject them to danger!  So much for "Duty - Honor - Country!" and “a Cadet does not lie, cheat nor steal or tolerate those that do!” Both faux-Vets have demonstrated they possess the requisite detachment to continue the VA’s absolute indifference towards Vets.

Now let’s contrast “Battlefield Bob’s” Military creds with the service of Mike Coffman (R-CO), the man he “snapped” at during his 11 Feb budget hearing.  Coffman, the son of a career Army officer, enlisted in the Army Infantry in 1972 at age 17.  When he left active duty at the end of his enlistment to attend college, he remained in the Army Reserves.  Upon graduation in 1979, he transferred to the Marine Corps and served on active duty as an Infantry Officer until 1983 but remained in the Marine Reserves retiring in 1994 at the rank of Major.  During the Gulf War he was called to active duty and actually SAW COMBAT as a Marine light armored Infantry officerIn 2005 he returned to Active Duty to serve in the Iraq War where he supported elections and helped establish interim local governments in the western Euphrates Valley; he completed his duty in Iraq in 2006.

Now, who between “Battlefield Bob” and “Major Mike” possesses the better political acumen and Military credibility to look after the interests of Veterans?  In the opinion of this Combat Vet (with a CIB) “Major Mike” gets my vote!  Maybe it’s time “Battling Bob” and his Number Two, “Slow to Combat” Slone go back to working with the USO where they came from and the President find a new secretary that is up to the job – hopefully someone that’s been steeled by Combat!


But the best example of “Battlefield Bob’s” incompetence is contained in