5 reasons Trump's VA pick is probably doomed

Late Tuesday, the White House made clear that Dr. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump's pick to head the Veterans A...

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 2:08 PM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 2:08 PM

Late Tuesday, the White House made clear that Dr. Ronny Jackson, President Donald Trump's pick to head the Veterans Affairs department, was not going to withdraw his nomination amid a panoply of questions about drinking on White House trips and doling out prescription pills to staffers overseas.

Jackson, we were told, wants to stay and fight. He's not going anywhere.

Which is his right. But, his nomination is almost certainly already dead -- whether or not Jackson chooses to acknowledge it.

Here's why.

1. Even before these allegations about Jackson's past behavior came to light, there was deep, wide and bipartisan skepticism about Jackson's qualifications to do the job. Going from White House physician to running the massive -- and massively dysfunctional -- bureaucracy at the VA was seen as bridge way too far by many senators, who were caught by surprise by Jackson's selection and who worried privately that Trump had picked him solely because the two men had a personal rapport. "There's a lack of experience," Trump acknowledged regarding Jackson on Tuesday.

2. The allegations against Jackson aren't the sort you recover from. Like it or not, the idea that Jackson, according to Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, had the nickname "The Candy Man" for his willingness to dole out prescription sleeping drugs on overseas flights will stick. And the image -- as reported by CNN -- of an intoxicated Jackson banging on the hotel room door of female employee is one that will linger (and rightly so) in the public's consciousness.

3. These allegations are not flimsily sourced and do not appear to be the score-settling grievances of a single former employee. Tester, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, told CNN's Anderson Cooper Tuesday night that the committee had spoken with 20 current and former members of the military who had worked with Jackson. "If you are drunk and something happens with the president, it's very difficult to go in and treat the president," Tester told Cooper. "That's what multiple people told us this was the case on several different trips." Yeesh.

4. Trump appears to have paved the way for Jackson to leave. In a joint news conference with French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday, Trump praised Jackson as a "fine man." But he then went on and on about how he had talked to Jackson and told him that it would be okay if the White House doctor decided that all of the negative attention and stress wasn't worth it -- and withdrew his nomination. "I told Admiral Jackson just a little while ago, what do you need this for? This is a vicious group of people," said Trump. "What do you need it for?" He added: "If I were him, I wouldn't do it." If that's not an invitation to walk away, I don't know what is.

5. Jackson's confirmation hearing has been suspended indefinitely. There's nothing worse in Washington -- or in life -- than twisting in the wind. An indefinite suspension of the confirmation hearing means that there is now oodles of time for Jackson to be picked apart. The revelations about his drinking and his doling out of prescription drugs broke on Tuesday night. There could be a lot more Tuesday nights if Jackson continues to try to stick this out. And no one can withstand many more days like the one Jackson had on Tuesday.

The truth is that Jackson was in for a real confirmation fight before a word of his past behavior office leaked. "I'm not sure anyone can run the VA," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told reporters Monday. "It's so big, it's one of the biggest bureaucracies in the federal government."

That's not exactly a ringing endorsement of Jackson -- or Trump.

Couple that initial skepticism with the allegations that shot around the Internet on Tuesday night -- and the very real possibility that we may learn more about Jackson's past behavior in the coming days -- and you have an absolutely toxic brew for the nominee.

And, yes, the White House is ostensibly behind Jackson. But, Trump's comments about the nominee have to give Jackson pause. And, if they don't, they should. Trump might not be willing to call on Jackson to withdraw -- that would be to admit he made in error in picking Jackson in the first place -- but it's hard to see how he would be terribly upset if Jackson decided he had had enough.

This feels like one of those situations in which Jackson will fight like hell right up until the point at which he realizes this isn't a fight he is likely to win. At which point, he will acknowledge what everyone already knows and walk away.

It feels damn near inevitable at this point.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
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