In scandal after scandal the script plays out. Allegations of misconduct or incompetence arise in the Obama administration and three things happen, 1) the administration denies there is a problem, 2) the president acknowledges the undeniable problem, feigns anger, and blames someone else, 3) nothing is done to remedy the problem. The question is, if this is Obama’s “year of action,” when does the action begin? Edward-Isaac Dovere analyses the situation here.
President Barack Obama wants to talk about flexing his administrative and executive power to do more. Instead, he got stuck talking about a clear administrative and executive failure that, at least so far, he hasn’t done much about.
And this one’s no contained, bureaucratic flub. The problems at the Veterans Affairs Department have engulfed an entire Cabinet department and may have left hundreds of thousands of veterans waiting for care, and as many as 40 of them dead.
Obama went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown Thursday to discuss a new presidential memorandum to reduce international travelers’ wait times at airports — but Wednesday at the White House, all he offered on the VA was a lot of anger and exasperation, an announcement of a few internal reviews and a vague promise of punishment for anyone found to be in the wrong.
“Listen, if somebody is mismanaging or engaged in misconduct, not only do I not want them getting bonuses, I want them punished,” Obama said, caught as he tried to leave the podium by a question pressing him for even a baseline commitment to consequences. “So that’s what we’re going to hopefully find out from the IG report as well as the audits that are taking place.”
But even Democrats have begun to ask: If this really is the Obama administration’s “year of action,” why wait for action on the VA?
As Shinseki himself began calling and meeting with Democrats on the Hill in an attempt to stave off damage, Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine), the ranking member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee who’s running for governor back home in November, sent a letter to Obama calling for an executive order to increase VA accountability.
“The president has expressed his outrage at the ongoing situation within the VA, and this is one opportunity for him to use his authority to put badly needed course corrections in place,” Michaud said in a statement about the letter.