On Friday, President Obama accepted the resignation of Secretary for Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. “With considerable regret, I accepted,” Obama stated, continuing “We don’t have time for distractions.”
Of course, Obama was firing Shinseki to distract from the actual problems at the Veterans Administration, just as he visited troops this week to distract from the fact that under his watch, the military budget has been slashed and veterans have been dying on waiting lists. Distraction is the name of the game for the Obama White House.
Shinseki’s resignation represents a beautifully-played political manipulation. It is truly first class. In response to accusations that the VA had created false waiting lists, and that veterans had died while waiting for care, Obama first suggested that he learned about the scandal from the news, then suggested that it had existed for decades; he visited the troops in Afghanistan to use them as a photo op; he expressed support for Shinseki, then accepted his resignation.
Obama’s politically Machiavellian acceptance of Shinseki’s resignation came along with rhetoric about how Shinseki wasn’t the problem – but neither was the VA. “He is a very good man,” Obama stated, as though the question being asked was whether Shinseki was an alcoholic child-beater. “He’s a good person who’s done exemplary work on our behalf.”
So then why was he leaving? He was leaving because Republicans are mean. “I think he’s deeply disappointed in the fact that bad news did not get to him,” Obama stated. “His priority now is to make sure that happens, and he felt like the new leadership would serve our veterans better, and I agreed with him.”
None of this actually helps veterans. All it does is paper over the problems at the VA with a head on a stick, grant Obama the imprimatur of “toughness,” and allow Obama to avoid blame for throwing Shinseki under the bus – all while blaming Obama’s opponents for “politicizing” the situation.
And demonstrative of the idiot politics under which America now labors. The reality is that the VA has had significant problems for years upon years, decades upon decades. And the deeper problem for the Obama administration is that should Americans realize the underlying problems with the VA, they could question a government-run centralized healthcare system: Obamacare.
Thankfully for the Obama administration, that realization will never come to fruition, because our politics now revolves around finding heroes and villains, individuals to blame for systemic issues. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is gone? Great, let’s move on from Obamacare’s failures to nutrition in school lunches. Shinseki has been ousted? We can move right along from VA waitlists to NFL concussions. The same mentality that reduced National Security Administration surveillance questions to a narrative about the heroism or villain-status of Edward Snowden has now reduced the VA scandal to a narrative about Eric Shinseki.
There are those on the right and left celebrating “accountability” today. But there is no accountability when the system itself remains intact. Only the faces on top change.