“In a world of faux outrage,” said Kathleen Parker in The Washington Post, “finally we have something about which to be scandalized.” Officials running the Veterans Affairs Department, the nation has learned, may have systematically falsified records to cover up long, deadly delays in VA hospitals. A backlog of 300,000 veterans have been awaiting treatment for more than four months, and as many as 40 may have died at one Phoenix VA hospital alone while waiting for care. This scandal has caught President Obama flat-footed, as usual, said Michael Gerson in WashingtonPost.com. Obama—who pledged to reform the VA while running for president in 2008—rushed to assume his now-familiar role of “outraged bystander” to the dysfunction in his own administration, while leaving VA head Eric Shinseki in his job. It’s the same faux outrage Obama expressed over the IRS and Benghazi fiascoes and the meltdown of Obamacare’s Web portal. When the president keeps insisting he had no idea that his underlings were so incompetent, it’s “more of a self-indictment than a defense.”
Obama has been president for six years, so he has no excuses, said Rich Lowry in Politico.com. Indeed, he has spent much of his presidency trying to convince Americans that federal bureaucrats can deliver health care more efficiently than the free market. Now his own Veterans Affairs Department—“an island of socialism in American health care”—is proving that government-run health care leads inevitably to long waits, corruption, and rationing of care. During the Obamacare debate, liberals would often point to the VA as a “good example of a single-payer, socialized health system,” notes J.D. Tuccille in Reason.com. Unfortunately for our veterans, it turns out they were right.
Obama’s critics have a point, said Paul Waldman in WashingtonPost.com. “If Democrats are going to argue that government can be a force for good, their most basic responsibility is to make government work.” That said, there’s an opportunity here for Obama. This scandal consists of concrete problems he doesn’t need congressional permission to fix. If Obama can make the VA work, he could redeem the liberal vision of government. As an Iraq veteran with PTSD, author Colby Buzzell is more concerned with tangible results as opposed to politics. He tells The New York Times, "It’d be nice for veterans to just call or walk into a V.A. hospital and see somebody and be taken care of the same day. I don’t think that’d be asking a lot.”
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