The withdrawal of Dr. Ronny Jackson as President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs was inevitable as accusations of professional misconduct mounted. And this was only his first hurdle; there was little evidence that he had the skills to manage one of the nation’s most complex and important bureaucracies.
Jackson is not the first Trump nominee derailed by a poor vetting process. The White House must approach background checks with the urgency and seriousness they demand, or his administration will continue to struggle to fill its many vacancies and to govern effectively.
Poor vetting also led to the withdrawals of Trump’s nominees for secretary of labor, Navy secretary and two candidates for Army secretary. Several judicial nominees lacked basic legal knowledge and withdrew. Dozens of White House staffers couldn’t get full national security clearances. The White House office responsible for this process is understaffed and inexperienced. It’s embarrassing.
This is not a partisan issue. The Senate is united in bemoaning the lack of preparation on nominees requiring confirmation.
Jackson’s lack of managerial experience alone probably was disqualifying; Veterans Affairs has more than 370,000 workers and serves more than 9 million veterans. Getting the right person to lead the dysfunctional agency is critical. Its medical facilities, including the hospital in Northport, are falling apart. The estimated cost of repairing and renovating Northport is $273 million. The medical center, a literal lifesaver for Long Island’s 130,000 veterans, must remain top-notch.
Trump must right this ship, for our veterans and all the other important hires to come.