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.