Shinseki’s Last Stand?

shinsekiVeterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki is one step closer to falling on his sword as the deadly, politically explosive VA health care scandal forces even Democratic lawmakers to demand his removal.

The added political pressure came after a new interim report by the VA’s inspector general determined that the agency’s officials were involved in a massive conspiracy to cover up the long, life-threatening delays that America’s veterans have been subjected to in the assembly-line abattoir that is the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

In the words of the report, which followed audits of 216 health-care centers, there was a “systemic” push by VA officials to conceal the long wait times veterans faced. Veterans in Phoenix, Ariz., waited 115 days on average for a primary care appointment, which far exceeds what official VA statistics indicated. At least 40 veterans have died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system. Many of the dead had been put on secret waiting lists.

It’s the latest chapter in this sad but entirely predictable unfolding of events. The needless deaths, doctored documents, and all-around incompetence, are what necessarily happen when the government runs a single-payer health care system. The VA health care scandal provides real-life examples to the American public of the unspeakable horrors that await them if the Obamacare train is not soon derailed.

After the report came out Wednesday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who had resisted demanding Shinseki step down, joined the growing, bipartisan chorus seeking the secretary’s removal.

“It’s time for Secretary Shinseki to step down,” McCain said at a press conference in Arizona. If he won’t leave, “then I call on the president of the United States to relieve him of his duties, fire him.” 

Undeterred, the former Army Chief of Staff is still trying to save his skin.

The retired general has been reaching out by telephone to Democrats on Capitol Hill yesterday, repeating his blame-shifting shtick and claiming to be outraged at the actions of his own agency that he is apparently unable to control.

As of yesterday afternoon, 11 Democratic senators facing reelection battles this year and several House Democrats had called upon Shinseki to resign, adding to the many GOP lawmakers who have demanded the secretary depart.

President Obama has claimed to support Shinseki in his current position but that support is lukewarm at best. “When it comes to the current situation . . . the president wants to see the results of these reports,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said yesterday. “He believes there ought to be accountability once we establish all the facts.”

The politically tone-deaf House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) continues to back the hapless Shinseki, siding with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Boehner said he will “continue to reserve judgement” on the VA secretary.

“Is him resigning going to get us to the bottom of the problem? Is it going to help us find what’s really going on? And the answer I keep getting is no,” Boehner said, echoing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s infamous “what difference does it make?” comment on the Benghazi scandal.

“The president is going to need to step up here and show some real leadership,” Boehner said, throwing a lifeline to the embattled Obama administration.

In a desperate bid to prevent being shown the door, Shinseki met with veterans groups Thursday to beg for their support. 

At the hour-long gathering, Shinseki, taking a page from President Obama’s “who? me?” playbook, blamed everyone but himself for the health care atrocities that took place under his watch.

Shinseki claimed he had been too trusting of reports from VA hospital employees, whining that during his 38-year military career he always thought he could rely on reports from the field. 

Shinseki also said he planned to hold VA employees who falsified waiting-list records in Phoenix accountable and make sure the 1,700 veterans in that city who are languishing in bureaucratic limbo receive prompt medical care.

Veterans groups were understandably skeptical.

“The question for all of us remains how will he address the breach of trust between veterans and the VA,” said Derek Bennett, chief of staff for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America.

“What does accountability mean? Does it mean firing people, demoting them, moving them? . . . I am still waiting to see what action follows the verbiage.”

In the end, Shinseki has done the American people a great service. 

As the Supreme Justice of the VA death panel system, Shenseki has become the public face of the heartless, overwhelmed, incompetent government health care bureaucracy that gets to decide who lives and who dies. He has given the public a taste of the nation’s health care future as government takes on an a bigger and bigger role.

It is no secret that VA health care and the health care delivery regime under the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) are fundamentally the same. VA health care is a single-payer system, and so, it is hopelessly sclerotic and Soviet. Obamacare necessarily leads to a single-payer system.

The VA system is outdated and doomed. It cannot work. Like Obamacare, it is based on the ludicrous notion that medical services can be provided effectively outside of markets. History shows conclusively that governments are very, very bad at providing health care services. This is not an arguable point.

The Department of Veterans Affairs itself has a long, inglorious history of patient abuse and neglect that has stretched out over decades. Yet VA health care is held up by the establishment Left as the model for the future.

VA health care is a “huge policy success story, which offers important lessons for future health reform,” says Paul Krugman, the alleged economist. Expanding VA health care is “one of my favorite ideas,” says JournoList propagandist-in-chief Ezra Klein.

It is only a matter of time before Shinseki is offered as a sacrifice to appease critics of the Obama administration.

And when he is, leftists like Krugman and Klein will blame the VA’s problems on Shinseki and claim that this inherently unsustainable system needs only to be tweaked a little more.

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  • tickletik

    This is weird.

    The republican speaker of the house is supporting his political enemy in a moment of incredible vulnerability. And That enemy, President Obama, is a man with a reputation for zero personal loyalty so much so that a phrase was created to describe his behavior, “throwing people under the bus”. Yet he is dangerously backing an incredibly toxic lackey who probably should be thrown under the bus for ethical reasons even aside from practical ones.

    Something is very weird here. There is an angle we are not getting which is open to exploitation. Someone cut a deal, shinseki is more important than we realize. Perhaps he represents a third party, ie unions, an important backer, something else? Maybe this appointee is the one person he loyal to, because of ideology? Perhaps shinseki is doing something the President finds indispensable?

    We need to figure out what is going on here

    • tickletik

      LOL, I thought of another reason. Ego.

      The mans ego is so damn big, that to throw shinseki under the bus would be too admit he made a mistake. This is HIS appointee. Forget the war, which is something the cowardly bully never understood or cared about; health care is his big thing, and the VA is not even a new service. If he can’t manage to even keep an established, somewhat corrupt service running; doing a form of socialism which the communist in him lives and breathes for, then he is one of the most wretched leaders the world has seen.

      Just a thought.

    • Matthew Vadum

      Good point.

      • tickletik

        You need to watch more TV matt. I recommend Game of Thrones!


        • Matthew Vadum

          Not enough dragons!

    • The March Hare

      BTW, I took it from your post that you assumed the term “throwing people under the bus” is a recent invention. The term has been around since the 8os and it’s recent use with regard to Obama’s cronies has popularized it’s use.

    • pfbonney

      “throwing people under the bus”

      Yeah. Starting with his white grandmother, followed by his pastor.

      A real class act.

  • logdon

    I’m going to keep this short and on point.

    I live in Britain where our ‘envy of the World’ NHS (National Health Service) has operated since 1948.


    It’s all there, the cover ups, the lot.

    As usual there’s a Latin aphorism for this sort of thing, caveat emptor and if any caveats need emptoring here they are.

    • truebearing

      You’re “a keeper.” If we ever have the chance, I’d enjoy a liver testing bout in the pub. Maybe we can coordinate it to coincide with the Elimination of Muslims Day.

      My respect, always.

      • logdon

        I have a few email buddies who’d appreciate EMD.

        They actually loath them and I’m there with them when I read of the parasitic behaviour and outright anti-British attitudes.

        Read any Andrew Gilligan article in the Telegraph (he’s good) and then read the often up to 2/3000 comments and that tells you that we are far from being alone.

        It’s not just Cameron who refuses to get it, it’s the whole bloody lot and even Sky, marginally better than el-Beeb is stuffed to the gunnels with political correctness.

        There’s a huge haul ahead but Ukip’s triumph last week and Farage’s masterful destruction of the loathsome Clegg in the two debates was sheer joy.

        This is far from over but a glimmer of Churchills sun lit uplands is hoving into view.

        I am, for once optimistic.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Chris Matthews was nearly standing on his desk screaming at his guests last night – famous uber hyper right wing fascists Joan “Patty Hearst” Walsh and Senator Sherrod Brown – because they quibbled with Chris that perhaps throwing Shinseki on the fire in order to shield his boss (Chris’s boss) from criticism wouldn’t actually fix everything what’s wrong with the VA.

    No I think the rig is in. Fire Shinseki, perhaps even indict him criminally. And Obama’s media will blithely wander off as if it’s all been made magically perfect.

    BTW you gotta love the solution that’s being floated – can’t go to a VA facility? No worries, go to any private hospital you like, for free. Someone else will pay for that.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Of course it’s always possible that Obama, true to form, simply does not care. He’s never running for public office, his presidency is a disaster, he has no plans to accomplish anything apart from Executive Fiat and his post presidential legacy has already been created for him. He no doubt spends his days looking for a family compound on the Iranian Riviera to retire to.

  • Cappy1437

    Not only is it time for Shinseki to go but John Boehner also!

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  • Capt Bob

    This is BS, Both Shinseki and the President have know about the VA problems for some time. The President admitted today he knew about the VA problems before he was President. So why didn’t he fix it when he became President. Also both of them have known about the More that 62,000 Homeless American Veterans which is a discrase on the United States. Maybe Obama should resign like Shinseki.

    • florenceva

      Manufactured scandal–this has been going on at the VA for a very long time–this is the way Obama gets rid of somebody in order to put somebody much more hardcore leftist –Secret Service–HHS–purge of generals with sexual proclivities–

    • florenceva

      Manufactured scandal–this has been going on at the VA for a very long time–this is the way Obama gets rid of somebody in order to put somebody much more hardcore leftist –Secret Service–HHS–purge of generals with sexual proclivities–

  • Paul Vonharnish

    “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
    – John Stuart Mill –
    May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873

  • Havoc

    If Shinseki is not responsible for the VA mess, for what are we paying him?

  • Cappy1437

    Too little, too late. A Retired General? He looks like such a weak mealy-mouthed person. He drank Obama’s kool-aid and now blames others for his failures. He must have read about the VA problem in the paper or saw it on the news. Shame on him.