They Fired the Wrong Guy
In today's Opinion Journal, Daniel Henninger weighs in on the recent dismissal of Major General George Weightman, the first senior Army official dismissed in the wake of the Walter Reed scandal. As Mr. Henninger notes, General Weightman is the type of leader who could have fixed the problems at the Army medical center. Instead he was fired--only six months into his tour as the center's commander--and largely to satisfy the Washington feeding frenzy.
We said similar things a couple of days ago. I'm not quite prepared to give General Weightman a free pass on the problems in his former command, but a few things are clear. First, the recent round of high-level dismissals that consumed two flag officers and the Army secretary are as much about public relations as they are about reform. As an old Washington hand, Defense Secretary Robert Gates understands that a few high-level firings can create an appearance of action, and give senior officials a little breathing room to actually address the issues at hand.
Secondly, we're still wondering how the dismissal of those officials will produce lasting change in a system and bureaucracy that was riddled with problems years ago (Mr. Henninger has a summary of a House hearing in 2005 that highlighted similar issues at Walter Reed). Obviously, the Army dropped the ball in solving problems at the medical center, but so did Congress and the White House. We're still waiting for the first politician--other than President Bush--to accept some degree of responsibility for the situation at Walter Reed.
And finally, we agree with Henninger's assertion that the military health care "scandal" is yet another example of the Washington establishment throwing good people on bonfires of its own making.