Grim Road Sign of the Day, VA Edition

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 29 2014 10:52 AM

Grim Road Sign of the Day, VA Edition

BILOXI, Mississippi—As congressional Democrats scramble to demand the resignation of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, as the secretary defends himself, and as the White House maintains a measured see-if-Shinseki-can-do-his-job stance, this sign sort of jumped out at me on a drive.

Utterly meaningless a month ago; a source of gallows humor today. About 9 percent of Mississippians are veterans, a number that goes much higher when you limit the field to registered voters. But it's taken a while for the local politicos to pounce. Only yesterday did Rep. Steven Palazzo, a class of 2010 Republican facing a few primary challengers, call for Shinseki to go. An IG report from just this week, which looked at the VA hospital in Biloxi, found it inadequately staffed.

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In the random conversations I've had (almost all with Republican voters), the problems of the VA are not really blamed on Obama or on the inability of government to do anything. This is a state that takes $3 for every $1 paid in taxes, and where FEMA and MEMA information is posed at intersections—people aren't that naive about government. They're just getting a grim reminder of a problem they'd gossiped about. 

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.