Mark Pryor: I don’t think Shinseki should go because … I’m not convinced this problem is big enough yet; Update: Shinseki must stay — because confirmation hearings would be tough?

posted at 4:01 pm on May 29, 2014 by Allahpundit

Via the Standard, I need to correct the record. Yesterday I predicted that Pryor would join the mob of red-state Democrats frantically pushing Shinseki under the bus to protect themselves. I wrongly assumed that leaving 1,700 vets in Phoenix to twist in the wind on a secret wait list — a scheduling problem the IG explicitly said was “systemic” — would qualify as a firing offense, especially considering Shinseki had five years to right this ship. Not to Pryor, apparently. He needs to see more before his conscience is sufficiently troubled to pull the plug.

I regret the error.

Seriously, am I reading this wrong?

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor says he’s outraged by treatment delays for military veterans — but isn’t ready to call for Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to step down over the issue.

The two-term lawmaker from Arkansas told reporters Thursday that he wants more information on how widespread the systemic problems that an inspector general’s report revealed about the VA. Pryor said he also wants to know whether similar problems exist at Arkansas’ veterans’ facilities.

He’s outraged, but … not quite outraged enough to give someone else a shot at reforming this Kafkaesque bureaucracy before other veterans die while waiting for treatment. This is the same guy who accused Tom Cotton of having a sense of political “entitlement” because he served in Iraq. (It’s an amazing show of balls by Pryor, who owes his own Senate seat to his father’s high name recognition in Arkansas, to accuse anyone else of entitlement.) Old CW in Arkansas: Is Mark Pryor too liberal for a red state? New CW in Arkansas: Does Mark Pryor have brain damage?

The weirdest part of this is that Shinseki is almost certainly headed for removal. Watch, for example, as Jay Carney dances around repeated questions about whether Obama still has confidence in the VA chief. Unless the IG shocks the world by issuing a follow-up report that says problems at the VA aren’t systemic after all, Shinseki’s on borrowed time. Why wouldn’t Pryor want to get out in front of it by abandoning ship now?

Update: Via new Hot Air editor Noah Rothman, here’s former White House deputy spokesman Bill Burton arguing against getting rid of Shinseki because the GOP would have a field day with confirmation hearings for a new VA chief. In other words, Obama’s political comfort level is more important than firing inept bureaucrats. That’s how “urgent” this crisis is. Skip to the end for the key bit.

By the way, the number of Senate Democrats who have jumped ship now stands at 11.

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Bmore on May 29, 2014 at 8:40 PM

I am tired of this crap of ‘Obama didn’t know.’

Gothguy on May 29, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Face it Gothguy. Obama didn’t care and neither did Shinseki. They still don’t. Both of them see this as a political problem and not a problem with the care and treatment of veterans.

Democrats don’t give a crap about the well-being of the military, let alone veterans. But it does beg the question where all that money went while Shinseki was in charge of the VA. He’s seen a 78% increase in his budget. But that clearly hasn’t translated into better care for VA clients.

Happy Nomad on May 29, 2014 at 8:41 PM

The leader gets the credit, along with the blame. Even if it’s just a symbolic move, it’s gotta be sayonara, Shinseki.

Christien on May 29, 2014 at 8:39 PM

When Shinseki was Army Chief of Staff, he would have fired a subordinate who was grossly incompetent and had killed soldiers through that incompetence. Yet, Shinseki is determined to keep his job to the point he has spent the last few days politicking Dems on the Hill instead of dealing with the problems that have been discovered. He truly is a detestable and worthless human being.

I’m sick of Shinseki’s old Army colleagues coming out in support of “Ric” as if the guy who once had some honor in uniform mitigates the dishonest crap weasel he has become.

Happy Nomad on May 29, 2014 at 8:45 PM

Nominate McCain or Romney as Shinseki’s successor.

BuckeyeSam on May 29, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Just before 4:00 he talks about Obama’s “falling victim” to something. WTF?

BuckeyeSam on May 29, 2014 at 8:55 PM

The polls must be looking good, Mark is getting cocky.

kcewa on May 29, 2014 at 8:55 PM

The epic level of stupidity in this country has reached a breaking point.

ultracon on May 29, 2014 at 8:59 PM

If Shinseki becomes the scapegoat, we’ll never uncover the conspirators who put this system of fake-the-numbers-to-earn-bonuses-and-screw-the-vets into place.

It didn’t spontaneously arise in 47 or more separate places on its own. It came from DC, from someone who has probably pocketed a quarter million or more in bonuses under Obama for the “improvements.”

Shinseki isn’t bright enough, or evil enough, to have devised such a plan, and he doesn’t get bonuses. If we let Obama blame him, the rest is swept under the rug faster than you can say “Hawaiian vacation.”

Pryor phrased it poorly, and I hope he loses badly, and whether or not the facilities in Arkansas are in on it is irrelevant, but he’s right about not hanging Shinseki too quickly.

Adjoran on May 29, 2014 at 4:58 PM

I’m assuming that you don’t expect Shinseki himself to expose the conspiracy if he’s left in place. As was already stated on the Hot Picks thread preceding this one, Shinseki was evasive, non responsive, and useless during his last appearance before a Congressional committee. You’re right, he isn’t bright enough– and I’d add he isn’t honorable enough– to be of any help to the country.

So get rid of him. Or rather, pressure Obama get rid of him before Obama is ready to do so, before he’s lined up some erstwhile ducks for the media to run with with as he was able to to with Sebelius following the disastrous Obamacare rollout.

There are two things that need to be happening at the same time: we do need to get to the bottom of the VA scandal, but we also need to begin to assert anew the novel ideas of “responsibility” and “accountability” in government. You accomplish the latter by firing the fools, starting with (and only just getting started with, Shinseki). And, politically, it wouldn’t hurt to force Obama into an action that will be perceived as weakness– an admission of his own bad choices. Doing so will not allow the President then to sweep it all under the rug. It’s grown too big for that.

In the end, Obama gained nothing more than a temporary victory lap from the way he handled the Sebelius resignation. Obamacare is too big, and still unfolding too ugly, to be swept under a rug. The VA scandal is more immediate– people have already died and are dying– and in that sense even bigger than Obamacare at the moment. If retaining the incompetents isn’t going to further your investigation (and with Shinseki, it demonstrably won’t), then fire the incompetents and continue the investigation. This isn’t going away. But acquiescing to Obama’s crisis management timetable– as he was allowed to do with Sebelius– isn’t going to accomplish anything, either. Except to buy Obama and the media time to manage it all their way.

In politics perception is everything. Boehner may think he’s playing a deep game by fence straddling, but the GOP leadership gains nothing in the public eye by looking indecisive and acquiescent. Isn’t really going to help in pressuring a more serious investigation into the scandal, either.

de rigueur on May 29, 2014 at 9:22 PM

But it does beg the question where all that money went while Shinseki was in charge of the VA. He’s seen a 78% increase in his budget. But that clearly hasn’t translated into better care for VA clients.
Happy Nomad on May 29, 2014 at 8:41 PM

Shinseki must be paying-off everyone. Even Boner wants him to stay in charge.

HellCat on May 29, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Shinseki must be paying-off everyone. Even Boner wants him to stay in charge.

HellCat on May 29, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Oh Please! Boehner doesn’t know what he wants beyond keeping his job as Speaker. He’s going to need those Dem votes if he pushes through amnesty for the illegal parasites between now an the next time his job comes up for a vote. Why alienate the Dems he may need to keep that job by laying into Shinseki now? After all, the ex-general just killed some veterans. How does that compare to keeping the Speakership?

Happy Nomad on May 29, 2014 at 10:01 PM

Maybe Shinseki’s military service gives him a sense of entitlement about his VA job.

Christien on May 29, 2014 at 10:17 PM

The polls must be looking good, Mark is getting cocky.

kcewa on May 29, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Nope. Cotton will win. Pryor’s under pressure…plus he’s stupid.

gracie on May 29, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Will Someone PLEASE Put This Guy OUT of My MISERY?!!

williamg on May 30, 2014 at 12:44 AM

In a proper world, the media would start a tally of those soldiers who have died due to insanely long and fraudulent wait times at the VA since Shinseki took the job in the exact same way that they did during the Iraq war. It would be very interesting to see what ended up with a higher death toll: An actual war in which we were fighting and liberating a country or the bureaucratic incompetence of a government single-payer system over the same length of time of 5 years. Can somebody do this, please?

Theophile on May 30, 2014 at 4:17 AM

This is the problem. These people are trusted to do a job & they failed due to ineptness or neglect. Now according to some, we have to keep them because of the ‘too big to fail syndrome’

RdLake on May 30, 2014 at 5:59 AM

I find it inconceivable that Tom Cotton could be trailing this guy in Arkansas.

Jaibones on May 30, 2014 at 6:36 AM

It is all about protecting Obama.

albill on May 30, 2014 at 7:04 AM

They honest to God believe that saying you have solved a problem is the same thing as solving a problem. Shinseki was put in 5 years ago to solve problems and he hasn’t done it. Same can be said for Obama. Burton and other Obama acolytes think he has because they say he has. The power of positive thinking is strong with this group.

txmomof6 on May 30, 2014 at 7:31 AM

I find it inconceivable that Tom Cotton could be trailing this guy in Arkansas.

Jaibones on May 30, 2014 at 6:36 AM

He’s not. ..and it’s only going to get better.

Rasmussen Poll: Cotton Holds Slim Lead in Ark. Senate Race
Thursday, 29 May 2014 06:15 PM

Republican Rep. Tom Cotton is hanging onto a small lead over incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in the Arkansas race for U.S. Senate, a new Rasmussen Reports survey showed Thursday — as conservative groups reportedly were pouring over $3 million into ads to bolster the challenger’s chances.

The latest survey shows Army vet Cotton with 47 percent support among likely voters compared with Pryor’s 43 percent. Four percent like another candidate in the race, and 6 percent remain undecided.

Cotton held a similar 45 percent to 40 percent lead in early February, Rasmussen reported.

gracie on May 30, 2014 at 7:57 AM

Pryor doesn’t think that enough veterans have died yet?!

jqc1970 on May 30, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Cotton should just buy air time, invite Pryor, and hand him the microphone.

I always knew he wasn’t as sharp as his father was. But I didn’t realize he was a complete moron.

Adjoran on May 31, 2014 at 1:44 AM

Just another reason for Mark to go in November. Bad ideas and bad decisions will doom him.

Amazingoly on May 31, 2014 at 12:11 PM

Follow thru with the recommendations the R led House is offering to allow the VA HCMF (High Chief Mother Fletcher) to fire poor performing administrative personnel now in charge of VA activities across the country.
Get Romney installed as Shinseki replacement (that confirmation in itself will be a riot of summer TV in the Gimmedat controlled Senate) and watch the sparks fly.
Romney will have heads on pikes by November if, (big) IF he is given a free hand to FIX THINGS.

Missilengr on May 31, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Where in the Hell do they find these IDIOTS.

tmgrant on June 1, 2014 at 6:44 PM