21 May 2014
The VA Scandal
It looks like a housecleaning is needed in the Department of Veterans Affairs, but the big question seems to be whether to entrust the housecleaning to Eric Shinseki, the current secretary, or to clean him out as well. Based on news stories, there's a lot of incompetence, if not corruption in VA hospitals and veterans are suffering, and in some cases dying from lack of service. Partisanship really should have nothing to do with the government's investigation of the problem, but who am I kidding? That there should be congressional investigations should seem obvious, but I suspect that both major parties are too concerned about how such hearings can be spun for political gain, or to avoid political damage. Democrats most likely worry that the scandal will somehow further taint their brand before the midterm elections -- that the President, and by extension his party, will be held responsible if Secretary Shinseki is found responsible for poor conditions or corrupt practices in the VA. It's also most likely that at least some of the Republicans demanding Shinseki's resignation before any hearings take place desire just such an effect. That shouldn't matter. It shouldn't provoke Democrats into stonewalling or cover-ups. The best thing they can do now is put the interests of veterans ahead of the interests of their party while avoiding any "let's not go too far" rhetoric that hints at their hiding something. The public will be able to tell much more easily if Republicans are politicizing the issue if Democrats won't.