Maybe Mike Coffman Should be VA Secretary

Sorry, Sec. Shulkin, but the correct hand gesture should be a thumbs-down.

President Trump today fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin in a move that was about as surprising as learning that another porn star was having an affair with the Commander in Chief.

Blair Miller reports for Denver7:

Rep. Mike Coffman got his long-awaited wish Wednesday when President Donald Trump announced he’d fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin amid a scandal involving his misuse of taxpayer money and infighting within his department.

Trump made the announcement on Twitter that Shulkin was out and that he’d nominated White House physician Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson to succeed Shulkin at the VA.

“Dr. Shulkin came from within the VA and did nothing to clean up the culture of the bureaucratic incompetence that has defined the leadership at the VA,” Coffman said in a statement. “I’m absolutely convinced that only someone from outside the VA can clean up the VA, and I hope that Admiral Jackson will be Marine Corp tough in getting that mission accomplished. Our veterans deserve better.”

Shulkin’s ouster had been anticipated, and sought by Coffman, for weeks after an inspector general report found Shulkin improperly accepted Wimbledon tickets on a trip to Europe, that he lied about the trip, and that one of his aides doctored emails so his wife could travel along with him.

Rep. Mike Coffman 

Coffman demanded Shulkin’s resignation in late February, which is kinda Coffman’s thing; he called for VA Secretary Eric Shinseki to be fired in May 2014 and publicly feuded with Shinseki’s successor, VA Secretary Bob McDonald, just one year later. Alas, Coffman never had the opportunity to call for Sarah Palin to be canned from the VA.

Coffman has also spent years passing the buck (his version of “leadership“) for problems with the new VA Hospital in Aurora. Coffman spends most of his time shaking his fist at people in his role as a member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Chair of the Oversight and Accountability Subcommittee.

While Trump has apparently already found his new appointee for VA Secretary, it isn’t sitting well with Veterans groups, so maybe it’s time for Coffman himself to start campaigning for the job. If every VA Secretary who gets the job earns nothing but contempt from Coffman, then Coffman himself should step up and show ’em how it’s done.

Coffman already has his MAGA hat; he should toss that puppy on his melon and double-time it on over to the White House.

6 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. mamajama55 says:

    Mike Coffman would be a terrible VA secretary. On the one hand, he has demonstrated an ability to sponsor legislation that helps veterans. But he can't get his fellow Republicans to allocate budget dollars for these programs. Most of his amendments end up stuck in committee – because Mike Coffman lacks the leadership skills to get diverse people to find common ground. 

    His oversight of the VA hospital building in Aurora came too little, too late to do any good. He's good at yelling that heads must roll, but not at solving problems.

    He wants to cut food stamps, which will hurt military families.

    He wants to restrict access to abortion and birth control, which will hurt servicewomen.

    It's anybody's guess where he really stands on DACA or immigration issues, which is causing stress to all of the serving soldiers with relatives without documents, or who are trying to become citizens themselves.  He seems to change position depending on his audience, the day of the week, and the language he's speaking in.

    Same thing with cannabis. Coffman is ostensibly trying to protect cannabis industry in Colorado. But will he actually stand up to Trump and Sessions on this? Past experience says he will try to talk out of both sides of his mouth on it.  And vets, particularly younger vets, really want to use cannabis medicinally for PTSD and other ailments.

    His solution to VA reform is to take away due process rights from its workers, who already put up with tough working conditions. He would make the VA system a "fire at will" workplace.

    Where we really need a crotchety, suspicious administrator is curtailing the rampant theft of opioids through the VA system. Coffman did try to solve that problem through an amendment to HR4242, which is sitting in the House.

    With all of his equivocating and not playing well with others, Coffman would be a terrible VA Secretary. Nevertheless, he would still be better than  lyin' Ronny Jackson, the Navy Admiral who told us that Trump weighed 239 and was in great health.

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    Ah, but consider Mike Coffman versus Dr. Ronny Jackson, a recently promoted Rear Admiral (promoted from lower half to upper half).

    Graduated med school. Apparently very bright and capable in undersea/hyperbaric and transitional/emergency medicine. But his administrative experience is somewhat limited. He apparently was the head of a surgical group in Iraq for a tour, and has served as the Physician to the President, leading an office staff — which Wikipedia helpfully describes as "typically composed of five military physicians, five nurses, five physician assistants, three medics, three administrators and one IT Manager."

    Rep. Coffman may be competitive with those administrative skills.

  3. mamajama55 says:

    Jackson's qualifications for the job: Trump likes him, he's willing to lie for the President (Excellent health! 239 pounds! Great genes!), and he looks good on TV. Trump is not known for his honesty or follow-through on veteran's issues, so a telegenic, happy-talking spokesman is all Trump thinks he needs in the job.

    By reputation, Jackson is apolitical. He will be pressured to privatize the VA. There is nothing to show which way he will move on this. As active duty military, he might not be able to say "No" to a direct order from the Commander in Chief. He does have to go through a Senate confirmation process.

    It will be interesting to see how Mike Coffman weighs in on all this.

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