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VA Nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson Grabs Two Beers, Pops Airplane Door, Slides Away Into History
No monster trucks were harmed in the withdrawal of this nomination
White House physician Ronny Jackson announced early this morning that he was withdrawing from consideration as secretary of Veterans Affairs, saying he'd had enough of all these completely untrue allegations by more than 20 people who had previously worked in his office. While the Trump administration had been making supportive noises, including the not especially reassuring claim that Jackson had received more thorough vetting than other nominees for top jobs, that wasn't enough to save the nomination after additional allegations came out yesterday.
In a statement announcing he was getting the fuck out, Jackson insisted he was the victim of baseless slurs:
The allegations against me are completely false and fabricated. If they had any merit, I would not have been selected, promoted and entrusted to serve in such a sensitive and important role as physician to three presidents over the past 12 years.
The logic of that second sentence really doesn't hold up so well; perhaps what he meant was that if his (alleged) conduct had previously come to light, he wouldn't have been able to keep the job? Successfully keeping years of crappy management under wraps isn't necessarily anything to brag about, and there was that little 2012 Navy medical inspector general's report about what an unhappy ship he ran at the White House Medical Unit. Hooray for him, he was friendly to higher-ups and managed to keep his job.
Jackson hit the "eject" button after yesterday's latest tranche of allegations was released in a summary written by Democratic staff on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, the New York Times reported. Several of the accusations went well beyond the previous claims that Jackson had drunk heavily on foreign trips, casually prescribed medications and fostered a toxic work environment. Jackson allegedly
provided such “a large supply” of Percocet, a prescription opioid, to a White House Military Office staff member that he threw his own medical staff “into a panic” when it could not account for the missing drugs[.]
In addition to that, a nurse working under Jackson said he prescribed meds for himself, which is a serious, medical license-threatening no-no, and that when he got caught, he simply told a physician's assistant to write the prescriptions for him instead. He also allegedly kept "private stocks of controlled substances,” and one of the other doctors working in the medical unit "felt uncomfortable and refused to be a part of the loose dispensing of drugs" to White House staffers.
Another item in the summary said that at a going-away party for the Secret Service, Jackson got drunk and then "wrecked a government vehicle." Jackson denied the new allegations, and specifically insisted, "I have not wrecked a car. I can tell you that." The claim about a drunken crash sure sounds like the sort of thing there'd be some record of, although now that he's removed himself from consideration as a cabinet secretary, that will all just go away and reporters will decide not to look into it, huh?
And then there are the garden-variety claims of terrible management, which seem entirely consistent with the findings of that 2012 Inspector General report. The summary portrays the Medical Unit as an office that was
terrorized by a mercurial boss, quick to anger. According to the summary, interviewed staff members described Dr. Jackson as “the most unethical person I have ever worked with,” “flat-out unethical” and “incapable of not losing his temper,” among other charges.
Add that to Jackson's complete lack of experience in running any sizable organization, and his brief time as a nominee sure looks like yet another in a string of great Trump choices:
According to NBC News, Ronny Jackson has become at least the 24th unsuccessful Trump nominee to a Senate confirmable job. https: //t.co/wSYOihpacw
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 26, 2018
Now that Jackson has stepped aside, Donald Trump may have no idea who would be right for the job, but he's definitely ready to reframe his own terrible decisions as a chance to get the base riled up. During his live-action verbal tweetstorm on "Fox & Friends" this morning, Trump had a fine tirade ready to go (he finally gets to his defense of "Doc Ronny" -- EVERYONE calls him that! -- at around the three-minute mark):
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) April 26, 2018
We call him Doc Ronny, you know, we call him "Doc Ronny," and we call him "Admiral Ron" -- he’s an admiral, highly respected, a real leader, and I watched what Jon Tester of Montana, a state that I won by like over 20 points, they love me and I love them. And I want to tell you, Jon Tester, I think this is going to cause him a lot of problems in his state. He took a man who is an incredible man, an incredible man...
Trump never quite got around to the verb about what Tester took Jackson and did, because then he was off on how Jackson was well-liked by the people he sucked up to, and what a great job his administration is doing at privatizing the VA. Elsewhere in the stream of semiconsciousness, Trump said, "You know, these are all false accusations. These are false. They’re trying to destroy a man," and insisted Jackson has an "unblemished" record, because why would Trump know anything about the very critical Navy I.G. report that his own White House released to reporters? How could Jackson possibly be a poor candidate when his son is doing so well at Annapolis, huh? Trump closed by saying, "I think John Tester has to have a big price to pay in Montana," where people just LOVE poorly-qualified Navy men. (Hi, Ryan Zinke!)
Asked if he has anyone in mind to nominate next, Trump said he definitely had someone in mind, but he wasn't ready to say who just yet, possibly because he still needs to check if Dr. Kildare is still licensed to practice medicine.
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