The White House doctor Ronny L. Jackson speaks to reporters during the daily meeting on January 1
The seemingly endless parade of personnel changes in the Trump administration continued on Wednesday. The president announces that David Shulkin, the secretary for veteran affairs, is absent and the White House doctor Ronny L. Jackson will replace him.
Jackson's name will be known to political observers across the country for one main reason: he's the doctor who showed a suspiciously rosy picture of Trump's health in January. But he is an interesting choice for many other reasons.
For one thing, Jackson is a kind of impartial choice. Like Shulkin, he served in the Obama administration, where he was also President Barack Obama's White House doctor. A native of Texas and a graduate of Texas A & M and the University of Texas Medical Branch, he is a Rear-Admiral of the US Navy who has been practicing the military for decades. He was nominated last week for a promotion to Rear Admiral (top half), which would give him his second star. According to his naval biography, he was sent to Iraq in the mid-2000s to direct a medical emergency room tasked with resuscitating troops.
During this time, he was appointed as a Doctor to the White House by President George W. Bush. In 2013, Obama promoted him to the top job in the West Wing. Trump decided to keep him. In this role, Jackson oversees not only Trump's health, but that of the First Family and White House staff and staff. Mostly behind the scenes, his biggest headline came when he was treating a girl bitten by one of the Obama's dogs.
Jackson achieved his highest profile in January when he delivered a promised survey of Trump's health. Trump, who at age 70 was the oldest newly elected president of all time, is known for renouncing exercise and fast food. There were also persistent questions – especially among his critics – about his mental health. And Trump's medical reports during the campaign were both ridiculously hyperbolic-claiming he was the healthiest president ever-and important information, including a hair-loss drug Trump takes.
Jackson's review was a cognitive test Trump had passed seeking early signs of dementia and other types of mental deterioration. He said Trump had "incredible genes" and (seemingly) joked that if Trump's diet had been better, he could turn 200. He denied that Trump had heart disease, even though the data indicated he could. He noted Trump's weight at 239 pounds, leaving Trump exactly one pound short of the definition of "overweight" and causing quite a few dubious reactions. (Call it the "gither" movement.)
The whole thing earned Jackson a sendup during the cold opening of Saturday Night Live.
Despite the ridicule, members of the Obama administration defended Jackson fiercely as a patriot and an honest man.
Last but not least, Jackson's rise seems to be the best way to strengthen the Trump administration To say things about him. Some defended Jackson's references, but this review is likely to be an issue at his confirmation hearings.
Perhaps the main reason why Jackson is a somewhat controversial choice is his lack of management experience. In recent years, VA has been a scandal-hit – even Shulkin-and has turned out to be a logistical and bureaucratic nightmare. Jackson ran the medical units in the White House and in Iraq, but he has never dealt with anything as big as he can imagine. It could even be the toughest cabinet job in the entire administration.
Trump, as he often does, has made a non-traditional selection that said things he liked on television.