“Government governs best, which governs least.” Attributable or not to Thomas Jefferson, it’s fair to say that the less government, the less corruption. Jonah Goldberg of NRO asks why fixing the VA has not been a priority for the Obama administration, let alone for Republicans who claim how much they love the military. Rationing, incompetence, bloat, waste—all problems Obama knew were plaguing the VA six long years ago. In most of the State of the Union addresses, Obama has boasted ad nauseam how he is improving government efficiency. If big government is the answer, as Obama and Democrats claim, why hasn’t the disgraceful VA mess not been front and center?
Many have noted, including our own John Fund, that the VA scandal poses an acute threat to the Obama administration because of how much its problems resemble the criticisms of Obamacare itself. But let’s imagine there was no Obamacare. Let’s imagine that Obama had actually followed through on his occasional promises to focus on the economy and jobs first and foremost and didn’t blunder into the huge wasteful distraction that is the Affordable Care Act.
The lessons of the VA would still be a problem for Obama and for liberals generally.
Why? Because the Democratic party simply is the party of government. It is the party that insists on the nobility, efficacy and intellectual superiority of government. The VA is at the intersection of all the things liberals insist are wise and good and just about government. It is government-run healthcare. It is the tangible fulfillment of a sacred obligation the government has with those who’ve sacrificed most for our nation. It is also the one institution and/or constituency that enjoys huge bipartisan support. The VA, rhetorically and politically, is more sacrosanct and less controversial than Medicare, Social Security, road building, the NIH, or public schools. We are constantly told that we could get so many wonderful, super-fantastic things done if only both sides would lay down their ideological blah blah blah blah and work together for yada yada yada. Well, welcome to the VA. How’s that working out for you?
The White House keeps saying these horrible cases of deception and wrongdoing are “isolated incidents” and not “systemic.” As I asked last night on Special Report, how many isolated incidents do you need before they become systemic? Right now, allegations have surfaced in 19 states. That feels systemic to me. But what do I know?