Friday, May 23, 2014

Obama's talking points miss point on VA scandal

By John Kass
May 22, 2014

Political Cartoons by Bob Gorrell

After keeping his mouth shut on that growing Veterans Affairs scandal for weeks, President Barack Obama finally acted.
Not with deeds. But with words.
The scandal involves reports of secret admissions lists, falsified data and some 40 veterans dying while waiting for treatment.
So Obama did what he does best. He talked.
He didn't fire Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Firing Shinseki would suggest he was actually taking responsibility, rather than just talking about taking responsibility.
So instead Obama did his thing with words.
He's a talker, this President Windsock from Chicago, first leaning this way, then that, considering everything, lecturing, talking, talking, talking.
As he talks, remember what Republican and Democratic presidents have ignored for years: the obligation of the nation to the veterans who put their bodies in harm's way.
Over the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, he'll talk some more. He'll talk of sacrifice and service.
But Obama told reporters Wednesday that if the allegations about the VA prove true, he won't put up with it anymore.
"It is dishonorable, it is disgraceful, and I will not tolerate it, period," said the president, providing the proper sound bite.
He also said that he welcomed Congress getting involved, but added this:
"It is important that our veterans don't become another political football, especially when so many of them are receiving care right now," he said.
He dared lecture Congress about using veterans as political footballs? The president who closed national war memorials during the sequestration so he could use the anguish of aged veterans as a political weapon?
The man must be besotted by the sound of his own voice, since he forgot other words that belonged to him years ago, just as his messianic oratory began thrilling the hopium smokers in the media who carried him, uninspected and untested, to the White House.
He was Sen. Obama then, patting himself on the back as soldier politicians flocked to his candidacy and joined his cause.
"I'll be a president who ensures that America serves our men and women in uniform as well as they've served us, and that's why I'm proud to have the support of these veterans advising me on the issues facing our troops and veterans," Obama stated in a 2007 news release.
"After seven years of an administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals, and neglected the planning and preparation necessary to care for our returning heroes, America's veterans deserve a president who will fight for them not just when it's easy or convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years," Obama said.
Is that why you kept your mouth shut about the VA scandal for weeks until Wednesday?
Back in 2007, he was right about President George W. Bush. That Republican administration did stretch the military to the breaking point.
But if Obama meant what he said back then — which he clearly didn't — then how could this current VA scandal have happened?
Because humans and politics combine to make such stuff happen. And we're fools if we keep ignoring history and human nature.
Shoddy treatment, long waits, cooked books and corruption aren't reserved for the VA. These infect large government programs because such programs are run by human beings. And humans haven't changed much since the founders of this nation insisted on small, limited government.
If you know someone who can't reason this out, who can't see how what's infected the VA will by definition transfer into Obamacare, or the single-payer nationalized health care system Obamacare will ultimately evolve into, then give them some advice:
Tell them to smoke a few more bowls of hopium if they can find any. Or tell them to watch reality TV or to listen to the political echo chamber of their choice, so they might be soothed by familiar, tribal chants.
But please do them a favor and tell them not to try to think. Any more thinking might hurt their brains.
Those of you who've spent any time in Chicago, where Obama learned his politics, know how government works.
Especially large centralized government and how it responds to the individual taxpayer.
How long can you wait for a pothole to be fixed, or a tree to be trimmed? How long can you wait for a cop to respond to the burglary of your home?
Most people just wait and wait. Some write letters to the editor. Others tweet out anguish and despair. Most shut up and give up, which is also part of the Chicago Way.
But some know a guy.
And if you know a guy, meaning you know a political guy, then your tree gets trimmed. Or that pothole gets fixed.
Or your tax bill is reconsidered by a special panel, if you know a guy who can get you to the right political lawyer, who might also be the same fellow who elects the special tax panel.
Whatever you do, don't throw away that guy's phone number.
If you get sick, you might have to call that guy someday to get to a government doctor.
Or you can wait, like the dozens of veterans who didn't make it.
And while you're waiting, and hoping you're not on the wrong set of appointment books, you'll have plenty of time to remember Obama talking, talking and talking.
Twitter @John_Kass

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