Stop the Presses! Or the Internet, or whatever it is we’re supposed to yell — hello karma, look who just got “Swiftboated!”
Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald has admitted that he lied about serving in the special operations forces in a conversation with a homeless veteran that was caught on camera earlier this year.
This would be the same VA secretary whose team tried unsuccessfully to destroy U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman’s reputation through a whisper campaign claiming the Coloradan was not a combat veteran.
Coffman was vindicated, McDonald, not so much:
The VA secretary was featured in a Jan. 30 “CBS Evening News” broadcast telling a homeless veteran “I was in special forces.”
According to the Huffington Post, while McDonald was formally recognized as a graduate of Ranger School, he never actually served in a Ranger battalion or other special operations unit.
“I have no excuse,” the website quoted McDonald as saying in its report. “I was not in special forces … That was inaccurate and I apologize to anyone that was offended by my misstatement.”
McDonald told the Huffington Post that he had “reacted spontaneously and … wrongly” in response to the homeless man’s claim. “As I thought about it later, I knew that this was wrong,”McDonald said of his false statement.
The White House has accepted McDonald’s mea culpa, calling his “misrepresentation” a “misstatement.”
Coffman, who has been under attack by the White House and McDonald for daring to question the scandalous mess that is the VA, is being a gentleman about it and taking the high road:
“The secretary’s misstatement was an error, but it doesn’t dim the fact that he served honorably. We should all take him at his word and Washington shouldn’t spend the next two weeks arguing about it. The secretary has a job to do – clean up the scandal-plagued VA. This latest controversy shouldn’t shift one iota of focus away from that long overdue task.”
There is no greater sin among veterans than lying about one’s service, and McDonald has committed the granddaddy of them all, destroying his reputation in less than seven months on the job.
McDonald was appointed by Obama to restore credibility to an agency already crippled by scandal. He has failed that mission on a majestic scale of fabrication, and should be replaced. But we aren’t holding our breath.
The American Legion posted this statement on their Facebook page:
“In an effort to bond with a homeless veteran, Secretary McDonald told him he was in the Special Forces,” National Commander Michael D. Helm said. “He did complete Ranger training and served honorably with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division. But a lie is a lie. I can’t believe people do this. What a disappointment from the leader of a department whose number one issue right now is the restoration of trust. He should be held to a higher standard. The secretary has apologized, as he certainly should. We hope that he can restore the trust that he lost.”
Army Staff Sgt. Anthony Anderson is with the Web site Guardian of Valor, which blows the whistle on those who fraudulently misrepresent their service record. Anderson told the Washington Post that McDonald “knew exactly what he was saying.”
“I don’t know if he was trying to impress the veterans or what. But to make false statements in public [in regard to] to your service when you are the VA secretary has enraged some veterans. This could very well be an integrity issue, along the same lines as the Brian Williams incident.”
During a press conference this afternoon, McDonald said his misrepresentation happened while misspeaking with a homeless veteran, with whom he was trying to find common ground. Cause you know, homeless veterans are always exaggerating their creds.
McDonald balked when asked if he should resign, and the media are following his lead. As one anchor said, it’s not so much a scandal as a joke in Washington.
What a coincidence, we consider him a joke out here, too.