Viewpoint

VA chief’s error minor; his job isn’t

From an editorial Thursday in the Fayetteville Observer:

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald is under fire for misstating his military service.

McDonald has apologized for saying he served in the Special Forces during a conversation with a homeless veteran. The secretary qualified as an Army Ranger, but never served as one. Nor did he serve in Special Forces. This seems to have been an honest factual gap in his shorthand account of his record. People do that in conversation every day.

But McDonald is a member of the cabinet. He’s held to a high standard. Still, his error was slight and singular. He didn’t broadcast it repeatedly like the fabrications for which TV newsmen Brian Williams and Bill O’Reilly are in trouble.

Lost in the debate over McDonald’s goof are real questions about his leadership. While being grilled during a recent congressional hearing, the former Procter & Gamble CEO asserted that experience running a large company gave him a better vantage point than his critics. That smacks of arrogance, considering what’s happened at the VA, including overstating the number of staff members McDonald has replaced.

Mr. Secretary, get the VA cleaned up, without deception or exaggeration.

Interest in minor gaffes will then fade.

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