Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki has much explaining to do. (KAREN BLEIER / AFP/Getty Images)
Americans have a right to expect a level of general competence from their federal government, especially since Washington spends so much of the public’s money on initiatives that are supposed to benefit the taxpayers who fund that government.
But U.S. citizens are being shortchanged by their administration which by its own continuing claims is telling the public that it knows no more than the average computer users who receive RSS feeds to keep them apprised of important news events.
A White House spokesman revealed on last Sunday’s network talk shows that President Barack Obama first learned of the VA scandal — secret wait lists that resulted in at least 40 deaths — at a Phoenix medical center, with similar stories coming from more than a dozen other sites across the country, through news reports.
That’s the same answer we got for the administration’s ineptitude in failing to manage the stimulus money that went to other places than the “shovel ready jobs” that were not ready and went unattended, the NSA snooping scandal, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, and the failed rollout of Obamacare.
Such revelations, if true, provide a startling admission that Obama’s administration doesn’t know what it’s doing.
Of course, the alternative is that this administration is doing nothing to address these important issues, a reality that is equally damning.
Perhaps even more frightening is that Obama and company are completely aware of and intentionally crafting the policies we are witnessing.
On Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney seemed to confirm the second scenario when he said “this (the VA hospital scandal) is not a new issue for the President,” and that “those problems that had been identified and discussed … as a candidate that led him to commit to increased resources.”
Such poppycock political posturing is obviously contradicted by the fact that Obama has found a way to spend the nation into $17 trillion in long term debt while failing to find a way to pay doctors enough to stay in the VA system and keep veterans from having to wait an average of more than four years to take an appeal for medical treatment through all available administrative steps.
The President didn’t have to wait for recent media reports on that. It was published in the Washington Post in 2012.
True, the VA system’s problems with delayed medical assistance for our volunteer military veterans predate Obama’s presidency.
They were a stain on the George W. Bush administration as well, a national problem that failed to gain appropriate attention or solution.
But it was Obama, as a U.S. Senator who sat on the Armed Services Committee in 2005, who met with 500 Illinois veterans at an emotional meeting where he heard — according to another of those media reports in the Chicago Sun Times — complaints about how the vets had to wait for treatment and were receiving inadequate care.
Obama frequently criticized Bush over the issue and said in a 2007 speech, a year before his election, “America’s veterans deserve a president who will fight for them not just when it’s easy and convenient, but every hour of every day for the next four years.”
The veterans are still waiting for that leader, who has perhaps been too distracted by his frequent golf trips to do more than read his RSS feeds to keep up on what his own administration is doing.
I’ve interviewed local veterans like Derek Boimier, who was badly injured when a suicide bomber in Iraq caused him serious injuries by “launching him” and “turning (him) into Superman, I flew 50 feet,” during the war.
Suffering from physical and mental trauma, Boimier has been waiting over four years for the VA to provide him care, in the meantime exhausting his savings and needing to rely on an incredible group called The Fallen and Wounded Soldiers Fund to provide him resources to seek care and pay his bills.
That charity is run by four women with no overhead, a record of answering veteran’s needs within a matter of days, and doesn’t rely on media reports to find out about our heroes in need.
Members of the current administration might do well to find out how these women do it and now they have a chance, appropriately, heading into the Memorial Day weekend.
After all, they’re receiving the information in the news media.
Frank Beckmann is host of “The Frank Beckmann Show” on WJR-AM (760) from 9 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday.