The Predictable Next Act of the VA Scandal

by Jim Geraghty

Over in the Corner, Andrew Johnson notes Democratic Senators Mark Udall of Colorado and John Walsh of Montana called on Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki to go.

It’s likely that other Democratic senators will follow, and with a bipartisan calls for a firing or resignation getting louder, at some point in the not-too-distant future, Shinseki will step down. 

Keep in mind, May 19, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters, “The president has confidence in Secretary Shinseki.”

Then on May 21, President Obama said:

Ric Shinseki has been a great soldier. He himself is a disabled veteran, and nobody cares more about our veterans than Ric Shinseki. So, you know, if you ask me, you know, how do I think Ric Shinseki has performed overall, I would say that on homelessness, on the 9/11 GI Bill, on working with us to reduce the backlog across the board, he has put his heart and soul into this thing and he has taken it very seriously.

But I have said to Ric, and I said it to him today, I want to see, you know, what the results of these reports are, and there is going to be accountability. And I’m going to expect, even before the reports are done, that we are seeing significant improvement in terms of how the admissions process takes place in all of our VA health care facilities.

So I know he cares about it deeply. And, you know, he has been a great public servant and a great warrior on behalf of the United States of America. We’re going to work with him to solve the problem, but I am going to make sure that there is accountability throughout the system after I get the full report.

The next act of this play is predictable: Within a few days or weeks, Shinseki will offer his resignation, not over the widespread failures at the VA but citing fears that he has become “a distraction from the real work that needs to be done.” Obama will accept the resignation, give Shinseki a thank-you ceremony similar to the one for former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, thank him for his service, and make remarks that somehow Washington’s “finger-pointing” and “blame-game” is the real problem here.

Because if Shinseki admits he was a part of the problem, it means the man who appointed him is part of the problem, too.

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