Okay, I admit that I made up the above headline. But, if Nancy Pelosi can blame the VA scandal on George Bush, why can’t I accuse him of shooting JFK? No evidence? Well, if such accusations must be supported by facts, Pelosi would do well to stop braying about Bush. If you compare his actual record on the VA to that of alleged President Obama, the latter will not thank you for it. As is the case with income inequality, fighting HIV/AIDS, and countless other issues, Bush has a better record on the VA than does his feckless successor.
Don’t believe that George W. Bush has a better record on income inequality than “the One”? Take it up with the kids at the Daily Kos. Last month, that notorious hive of rightwing knuckle draggers published a post titled, “Income Inequality has grown much faster under Obama than George W. Bush.” Read it and weep. If you decline to believe Bush has a better record on AIDS, talk to the dyed-in-the-wool GOP mouthpieces at PBS who point out that activists have often compared Obama’s record unfavorably to that of his evil predecessor.
The same pattern prevails where the VA is concerned. In 2007, Obama famously pledged to do better by America’s veterans than had Bush: “I’ll be a President who ensures that America serves our men and women in uniform as well as they’ve served us.… After seven years of an Administration that has stretched our military to the breaking point, ignored deplorable conditions at some VA hospitals… America’s veterans deserve a President who will fight for them….” This was, of course, just another empty Obama promise.
What Obama actually did once elected President was precisely what he always does in any situation requiring leadership — he voted present. This could have been predicted by anyone familiar with his brief record in the U.S. Senate, where he didn’t bother to do even that much. Illinois Senator Obama was ostensibly a member of that body’s Veterans Affairs Committee but was conspicuous primarily by his absence. As former Veterans Affairs head Jim Nicholson told CNN, “He was on the committee but he never showed up.”
The deterioration of the VA under Obama has been so pronounced for so long that even Obama-friendly news outlets have been moved to tell the truth about it. More than 15 months ago, for example, the Daily Beast lambasted Obama for his neglect of the VA: “The Department of Veterans Affairs’ ability to quickly provide service-related benefits has virtually collapsed under President Barack Obama, according to internal VA documents obtained by the Center for Investigative Reporting and authenticated by the agency.”
The piece went on to provide stats highlighting the state of the VA under Obama compared to its condition under Bush: “The ranks of veterans waiting more than a year for their benefits grew from 11,000 in 2009, the first year of Obama’s presidency, to 245,000 in December — an increase of more than 2,000 percent.” And under Bush? “The average wait time for veterans filing disability claims fell by more than a third under President George W. Bush, even as more than 320,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans filed disability claims.”
Such unsettling reports prompted the chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee to write a letter almost exactly a year ago, asking for the President’s help in correcting the horrifying state of the Veterans Affairs Medical Centers. Chairman Jeff Miller (R-FL) used a recent visit to the VA hospital in Atlanta to illustrate “the management failures, deception, and lack of accountability permeating VA’s health care system.” Miller explicitly stated that the situation was so bad that Obama’s “direct involvement” was required.
Miller made no attempt to turn the issue into the kind of “political football” the President affects to abhor. He just wanted Obama to lend a hand in solving a serious problem that is doing very real harm to America’s veterans. The Commander-in-Chief did precisely nothing. Miller’s committee has since launched a web campaign called, “VA Accountability Watch,” whose purpose is to highlight the VA’s ongoing policy of giving bonuses to officials who manifestly fail to fulfill the VA’s mission. It invites veterans to “tell us what you think.”
What veterans think can be gauged by the reaction of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) to the President’s failure to fire Eric Shinseki, the Obama administration apparatchik who presided over the multiple outrages that make up the VA scandal. The CEO of IAVA, Paul Rieckhoff, called this failure “a tremendous disappointment” and added the following: “Speeches and excuses will not solve this problem.… Only decisive leadership, bold change and strong accountability will repair decades of failure.”
But if Reickhoff expects such a response from President Obama, he’s in for a very long wait. Even Obama sycophants like CNN’s John King are afraid that the President is going to continue his long-standing policy of doing nothing about the problem: “More and more Democrats in 2014 races are calling for the president to get a spine, they say, and fire his Veterans’ Affairs secretary. And, what more and more Democrats are saying privately is scathing, calling the president and his team ‘detached, flat-footed,’ even ‘incompetent.’”
And they are right. Sadly, there are still political hacks like Nancy Pelosi and a variety of glassy-eyed Obots wacky enough to blame the VA scandal on George W. Bush, the record notwithstanding. But, as they say in Bush’s home state, that dog won’t hunt. They may as well blame him for the JFK assassination or the abduction of the Lindbergh baby. No one with any sense is going to buy it. The man responsible for the VA scandal resides not in Texas, but at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. His name is Barack Hussein Obama.