Alternate headline: “Noted liberal hopping mad about predictable results of government-run health care.” I’m embarrassed to say that I thought there was a slim chance that he’d can Shinseki over this, even though that completely contradicts his M.O. over the past five years. The politics of it, with sick veterans left to die on secret wait lists, are simply too terrible for inaction, I figured. And it’s not like the administration was blindsided. They’ve known about “unreliable” wait times at the VA since before Obama became president; candidate Obama told veterans that addressing long waits was an “urgent” priority that he’d deal with as C-in-C in a now infamous stump speech in 2007. He and Shinseki had every reason to treat the VA as a code-red problem from the moment they assumed office. Instead, as far back as year two of the Obama administration, VA executives were sending around memos warning of questionable scheduling practices. And now here O is, in 2014, babbling about how he’s launching a new investigation and new studies, yadda yadda yadda, before deciding what to do.
Watch the second clip below, of CNN’s Drew Griffin, for the proper response to that. There have already been numerous studies, including by the VA’s IG, of the wait-time problem. How do you think Senator Obama knew that the problem was “urgent” in the first place? Everyone knows — and yet, given the opportunity to fire Shinseki and vowing that he “will not tolerate” this, Obama once again … decided to tolerate it. Shinseki’s still in command, for now, leaving O with basically nothing to say for himself here except rote expressions of outrage. This felt like the sort of presser that the president typically gives the day after a midterm election in which his party’s taken a beating: He has nothing to say, but he feels obliged to show his face lest he be accused of cowardice. That was his goal today — stand up in front of the camera, check the box by looking appropriately outraged, and hope that the time you’ve just bought yourself ends up with the media and the public losing interest and eventually focusing on something else. This guy ran on accountability and now, five years later, here we are. He’s completely checked out, as even some Democrats lately have begun to admit.
In conclusion, Sebelius/Shinseki 2016.