Depending where you get your news, and if you read no further than the headline, this is what just happened:
' Army's surgeon general to retire
' Army Surgeon General Submits Request to Retire
' General Steps Down in Walter Reed Furor
' ARMY SURGEON GENERAL KILEY RETIRES AMID WALTER REED MEDICAL CENTER FUROR
' Army surgeon general ousted amid Walter Reed scandal
' Army surgeon general forced to retire
We begin with MSNBC's benign "Army's surgeon general to retire" (ho hum) and move down to CNN and HuffPo's more breathless (but more accurate) variations on "Army surgeon general's butt gets the boot."
Would it surprise you to know that the term of service of the Army surgeon general in question (Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley) falls within the Bush administration's reign? And that his medical specialty was OB/GYN medicine? Heckuva job, Kiley.
One version of this story says that, according to an anonymous official (and have you noticed all the complex language around anonymous officials, i.e., "on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record"), it was the acting Secretary of the Army who asked Kiley to retire. The anonymous official further reported that Robert Gates was not involved in the decision. Righto.
Faux News has a lede that actually uses the words "broadening scandal" in relation to "poor health care for veterans returning from Iraq." This article ends on a hopeful note: "The Pentagon last week said it has been making progress in addressing the problems uncovered at Walter Reed, including adding caseworkers to help smooth out some of the medical and (sic) roadblocks soldiers face." Hello? Barn door open. Horse gone.
the Washington Post opens with Kiley's "request to retire after weeks of criticism over his handling of the Walter Reed scandal and other health care problems facing veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan." WaPo says some of Kiley's colleagues have described him as "a dogged and aggressive leader, while others have said he has been overly career-minded and focused on personal success."
The New York Times says Kiley wanted to stay. Last week, he told the Senate Armed Services Commission, "I still think I've got the right skill sets and the right experience to fix these problems."
Stop. Right. There. This is Exhibit 3,486 (or so) of the Bush Administration modus operandi. Maybe Kiley is right. Maybe he does have some skills hitherto unseen. But here is my question. Why haven't we seen them? Why do we continue to accept that time after time, people in positions of power in Bushland bleat after they are exposed for egregious mismanagement and errors that they'd be really terrifically competent folks if they only had a chance?
They've all had a chance. Lots of chances, in fact. And wouldn't you think a "terrifically competent folk" with even a shred of personal or professional integrity would demonstrate that by word and deed, every day, before the feces hit the fan blades? If nothing else, there's the work ethic thing.
May I suggest that the White House human resources department could use some help? Never, in all my years (and remember, please, that I fell off the turnip truck a long, long time ago) do I remember such a roster of apparent incompetents, incorrigibles and butt-kissing ladder-climbers on their way to '" nowhere, actually. Because one by one, they're being found out, exposed and expelled. And I have little doubt we've only just begun.
Kiley's parting shot is this: "I could not be prouder of the incredible Americans in the Army Medical Command who care for the warriors who have volunteered and sacrificed so much to defend our country and our way of life. I was blessed to have walked among them." That may be true. Would that the wounded warriors had been blessed, too.