by Andrew Mangione
President Barack Obama spoke at a press conference on Wednesday, May 21, regarding the lack of accountability, long wait times for care and falsifying records scandals that are plaguing the Veterans Administration. True to form, and as is his administration’s standard operating procedure, the President acted outraged and immediately ordered a full investigation to determine “if there was misconduct”. If there was misconduct? Mr. President, veterans died due to long lead times for care, how much proof do you need to determine culpability?
He spoke glowingly of veterans’ commitment to America and how America has a “sacred trust” and obligation to care for them, and he’s right. However, he did spend time at the presser in “it’s not my fault” mode. Obama cited the influx of patients into the VA System due to two wars in the Middle East as partly to blame for long wait times for care. Whatever happened to the promise he delivered while campaigning for President that should he become Commander-in-Chief, he would “ask…every single day whether I am serving you as well as you have served America. I will have no greater calling than standing by those who have answered our country’s call.”
Is he just discovering the increase in veterans pursuing care now? Where has he been over the last five years? Where was his proactive plan to deal with the rise in veterans’ seeking care as a result of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan? He claims that veterans and their care is “a cause for his presidency” and promises “accountability and punishment” after yet another investigation into a federal entity for which he is ultimately responsible. Accountability and punishment? What does he have in mind? What is his plan to increase accountability in a bureaucracy that is clearly too large to be managed? What kind of punishment does he intend for some entitled bureaucrats who have grown comfortable and safe after years dwelling in a tax payer-funded career?
No, the best President Obama has to offer is a promise to look into the problems and get back to us later. One can’t help but wonder if by “later” he means after this scandal is nothing more than a faded memory in Americans’ collective minds. Will we actually see substantive action to correct the systemic problems that are puncturing the VA as a result of another White House investigation?
The President did, however, take a whopping two questions from his friends at the Associated Press and Reuters at the end of the press conference. This seems to be the same old, same old from the Obama White House—act concerned, order an investigation all while hesitating to take on tough problems and face the difficult reality of solving them.