Yesterday at the House Armed Services Committee hearing on veterans care, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-GA) attempted to stand out from the rest of Congress and argue that the conditions in Building 18 weren’t that bad. Instead of criticizing the cockroach infestation, he said, “I was glad to know that those cockroaches were belly up. It suggested to me that at least someone was spraying for them.”
He also tried to blame the soldiers for the conditions, stating, “And, of course, if you leave food around in a motel room or a dorm room at a college, you’re going to get some mice show up at some point in time.” Watch it:
Gingrey further blamed the media — specifically the Washington Post — for the fallout, saying he was “shocked” that Army Secretary Francis Harvey and Walter Reed commander Gen. George Weightmann were fired. “[A]sk the Washington Post whose head should roll, I think [President Bush] probably would be…the only satisfaction.” He then added, “[L]et’s try to take some of the politics aside and some of the rhetoric, and try to solve the problem.”
(HT: TP reader PC)
I want to say for the record that, Mr. Chairman, that, um, I have been to Building 18. I have been to Walter Reed on a number of occasions, but specifically in regard to this issue went to take a look first-hand.
Having grown up in a motel, when I was going to medical school and living in one of the rooms, when I saw this old Walter Reed Motor Inn, it really reminded me a lot of, Mr. Chairman, of a, of the motel that my parents had in Augusta, Georgia. It’s not a five-star hotel, make no mistake about it, but it’s not a flophouse. It’s not a dump. It’s not a dive. It needs some work, no question about it. I’m not making excuses, of course. And when I read the Washington Post report I was glad to know that those cockroaches were belly up. It suggested to me that at least someone was spraying for them, Mr. Chairman.
And, of course, if you leave food around in a motel room or a dorm room at a college, you’re going to get some mice show up at some point in time. But there’s no question that there’s a problem. I’ve heard some of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle suggest that specific heads should roll. I don’t know that, ah — I was a little bit shocked, quite honestly, that the Secretary of the Army was relieved of his command and the commander at Walter Reed, General Weightmann was relieved of his command and a change has been made there.
I don’t know what comes next, but I would guess if you ask, since General Schoomaker has had to recuse himself, ask the Washington Post whose head should roll I think it probably would be the Commander-in-Chief, would be the only satisfaction, and that would be President Bush.
But here again, let’s try to take some of the politics aside and some of the rhetoric, and try to solve the problem.