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The Ronny Jackson debacle is entirely and completely predictable

When President Donald Trump named White House physician Ronny Jackson as his choice to be the next head of the Depart...

Posted: Apr 24, 2018 2:52 PM
Updated: Apr 24, 2018 2:52 PM

When President Donald Trump named White House physician Ronny Jackson as his choice to be the next head of the Department of Veterans Affairs, it caught lots of people -- inside and outside 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue -- by surprise.

After all, Jackson had never run an agency even close to the size of the VA. And, it appeared that Jackson's main appeal to Trump was their personal rapport -- as well as the clean bill of health Jackson had given Trump after his annual physical. (Jackson's performance at a news conference announcing the results of that physical didn't hurt either.)

"He's like central casting -- like a Hollywood star," Trump said of Jackson in a speech to donors at his Mar-a-Lago resort in February.

Then this happened on Monday night:

"Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee are raising concerns about allegations involving Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump's nominee to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs, and are reviewing them to determine if they are substantial enough to upend his nomination.

"Committee members have been told about allegations related to improper conduct in various stages of his career, two sources said."

The White House, according to CNN reporting, has no plans to pull Jackson's nomination.

"Admiral Jackson has been on the front lines of deadly combat and saved the lives of many others in service to this country," said White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley on Tuesday morning. "He's served as the physician to three Presidents-Republican and Democrat-and been praised by them all. Admiral Jackson's record of strong, decisive leadership is exactly what's needed at the VA to ensure our veterans receive the benefits they deserve."

But, Jackson's confirmation hearing -- originally set for Wednesday -- is all-but-certain to be postponed amid the allegations.

This is what happens when you govern by personal preference and favor seat-of-the-pants decisions rather than more thought-out ones.

Trump has made no secret of his unwavering belief in the rightness of his gut. He is an instinctual actor; he goes with what feels right as opposed to what conventional wisdom or the graybeards of Washington tell him is right.

It worked like a charm during the 2016 campaign. Trump went from an asterisk to the White House by -- and I am only oversimplifying slightly here -- doing the opposite of what everyone said he should. (Thank you George Costanza!)

When he won, Trump tried to do what he thought conventional wisdom said he should. He tried to make nice with the Washington establishment by hiring former Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus as his chief of staff. He trusted House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell when they laid out an ambitious schedule to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with a conservative alternative.

But almost none of that worked. Trump chafed at being managed. Health care legislation stalled. Trump's poll numbers flagged. The momentum he had built coming off the biggest upset in modern presidential history waned.

And so, Trump went back to being, well, Trump. He tweeted more. He made calls -- on everything from foreign policy to staffing -- on instinct. Which brings us to the Jackson pick.

Trump didn't pick Jackson because of his depth of management experience in big organizations. (Jackson doesn't have that.) He didn't pick him after a long and deliberative process that included consultation with Republicans (and Democrats) on Capitol Hill. He didn't vet Jackson fully to ensure that he could even be confirmed. (Jackson was tapped as the top White House physician by President Barack Obama in 2013; that position does not require Senate confirmation.)

Trump picked Jackson because he liked him. Because he thought Jackson did a good job at that news conference announcing the results of Trump's physical. Because it felt like the right move.

All of that means that where the White House finds itself today with Jackson -- dead in the water unless something changes -- was entirely predictable. Governing by the seat of your pants is rarely a recipe for success; there's a reason, after all, that things like vetting exist.

Trump wanted Jackson because he liked him. Well, he got him. And I bet he wishes he didn't right about now.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 941120

Reported Deaths: 15315
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1282511983
Lake633041097
Allen53609758
Hamilton43827447
St. Joseph41906590
Elkhart33545490
Vanderburgh30383448
Tippecanoe26820249
Johnson23609417
Hendricks22250341
Porter21737346
Clark17409229
Madison17366384
Vigo16108281
Monroe14466191
LaPorte14311239
Delaware14070221
Howard13865272
Kosciusko11418135
Hancock10841165
Warrick10674177
Bartholomew10542168
Floyd10430205
Wayne9959226
Grant9130204
Morgan8865160
Boone8389111
Dubois7710123
Dearborn762289
Henry7608130
Noble7413101
Marshall7362128
Cass7176117
Lawrence6957153
Shelby6584111
Jackson656785
Gibson6156107
Harrison603786
Huntington600195
Montgomery5805105
DeKalb574291
Knox5494104
Miami542488
Putnam536768
Clinton533665
Whitley524953
Steuben497268
Wabash483592
Jasper479160
Jefferson470092
Ripley454277
Adams444068
Daviess4169108
Scott405865
White391857
Clay390857
Greene388392
Decatur385296
Wells384983
Fayette374278
Posey359941
Jennings353156
Washington332047
LaGrange321375
Spencer317835
Fountain316555
Randolph312888
Sullivan307449
Owen283863
Starke280064
Fulton277553
Orange275859
Jay254837
Perry251652
Carroll243729
Franklin239338
Rush234130
Vermillion233250
Parke219820
Tipton209655
Pike207639
Blackford168334
Pulaski163551
Crawford146018
Newton144345
Benton142516
Brown135346
Martin128217
Switzerland125810
Warren114616
Union96911
Ohio79711
Unassigned0479

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1365800

Reported Deaths: 21596
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1522221560
Cuyahoga1344852327
Hamilton976051320
Montgomery670271141
Summit562091047
Lucas50900863
Butler47417655
Stark41580976
Lorain31567532
Warren30001331
Mahoning26963639
Clermont25628292
Lake24585417
Delaware22313145
Licking20487241
Fairfield20420221
Greene20309272
Trumbull19866509
Medina19796287
Clark17879328
Richland16314234
Portage16130229
Wood15681208
Allen14115256
Miami13786253
Muskingum12641152
Wayne11946238
Columbiana11708241
Tuscarawas10953269
Marion10725148
Pickaway10465129
Scioto10324127
Erie9747171
Ross9436176
Lawrence8755125
Hancock8458141
Ashtabula8317185
Geauga8173156
Belmont8140187
Jefferson7527172
Huron7423128
Union731851
Washington7183120
Athens697165
Sandusky6848134
Darke6756136
Knox6671122
Seneca6358137
Ashland5948113
Auglaize587188
Shelby5727101
Brown564171
Mercer557890
Defiance5483101
Madison543371
Crawford5425114
Highland541581
Fulton530683
Clinton525580
Logan512182
Preble4994110
Putnam4833106
Guernsey470364
Williams459282
Perry449852
Champaign445964
Ottawa436884
Jackson425362
Pike388843
Morrow383851
Fayette375853
Coshocton374766
Adams360675
Hardin359069
Gallia347356
Holmes3259108
Henry324668
Van Wert314670
Hocking301769
Wyandot280658
Carroll262652
Paulding242243
Meigs213942
Monroe189749
Noble169340
Morgan165829
Harrison157940
Vinton138118
Unassigned05
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