Barack Obama’s selection of Eric Shinseki to head the Department of Veterans Affairs, a position that has only been Cabinet-level for 20 years, is receiving an unusual level of attention. This is understandable, given the celebrity that Mr. Shinseki has accrued these past five years, as his pre-invasion estimate that the U.S. had sent hundreds of thousands too few troops to Iraq has been sadly validated.
But it actually underscores an ironic trend in Mr. Obama’s initial wave of foreign policy and national security appointments: The man whose primary season success was rooted in his early opposition to the Iraq war isn’t exactly filling his inner circle with the anti-war crowd’s heroes.
This isn’t meant to disparage the role of V.A. secretary, which should take on added significance in the incoming administration, with Mr. Obama repeatedly promising as a candidate an extensive and expensive overhaul of the department’s health care system. But Mr. Obama is asking Mr. Shinseki to administer a bureaucracy, not to play a meaningful role in crafting military and foreign policy.
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