In most cases, I have come to realize that the Obama administration is easier to understand if you dispense with the notion that there is some sort of plan other than getting through each day by minimizing immediate political damage to the highest degree possible without regard to long-term goals.
But while I’m not always confident there’s a plan for actual policy, there’s always a plan for avoiding questions and blame on scandals.
On the VA scandal, that plan has been enacted.
Step 1: “We’re just finding out about this ourselves and are as appalled as anyone over these allegations. We vow to get to the bottom of this and, if true, right this wrong swiftly and thoroughly. Nothing less than the honor of our nation and our people is at stake, and that will not come to harm on my watch.”
Step 2: “We are investigating ourselves right now to make sure we get to the bottom of this. It’s important that we get all the facts from ourselves, and in the meantime it would be inappropriate for ourselves to answer questions about the investigation we’re conducting on ourselves.”
Step 3: “Didn’t I just tell you we started an investigation of ourselves? Also, we noted our outrage. I cannot possibly make any statements about the very obvious wrongdoing that occurred on our watch until the investigation we’re conducting of ourselves is completed, printed on paper and in my hands. Anything else would jeopardize the integrity of our investigation of ourselves. Is that what you want?”
Step 3 is where ABC’s Jon Karl found himself today, on the receiving end of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney’s indignation at the mere asking of questions after the administration has expressed grave concern and started an investigation.
Up next, Step 4: “Only crazy wingers even ask questions about stuff like this. Are you a crazy winger? Do you think it’s a grand conspiracy in which the President of the United States conspired to personally hurt veterans? Do you think that’s an appropriate question to ask?”
Step 5: Wait six months, refer to formerly outrageous scandal as phony.
Step 6: Slow walk investigation and especially the release of requested and possibly incriminating documents for a year or more.
Step 7: “Oh, that ‘scandal’? Dude, that was a year ago. Who’s still talking about that?”