The VA Scandal: A Democratic Candidate (and Veteran) Versus "Both Parties"

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 30 2014 1:55 PM

The VA Scandal: A Democratic Candidate (and Veteran) Versus "Both Parties"

131174056-japanese-american-veterans-of-the-100th-infantry
Someone should be looking out for them

Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images

Now that Eric Shinseki is packing up the clutter on his desk, politicians are recalibrating their stances on the whole VA story. The natural momentum of the news cycle suggests that the "story" will end soon—that an "Obama scandal" gets more coverage than a grinding, continuing story of hospital wait times. (For evidence, see how more than a year of such stories failed to get pick-up.) Speaker of the House John Boehner told reporters today that the Shinseki move does not "absolve" Obama. He was channeling the conservative wisdom that dropping Shinseki might make it easy for Obama to "end" the story—and that could not happen.

But the most interesting response to the story comes from Phoenix, where Democrats are fighting for the nomination to a safe seat in the House. On May 28, Maricopa County supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox called for Shinseki to go. "As the family member of a number of veterans, including my nephew who recently served in Iraq, I know how much our service members sacrifice for our nation," she explained.

Advertisement

Wilcox's strongest opponent (the frontrunner, actually) is state Rep. Ruben Gallego, an Iraq War veteran who I've profiled before for the magazine. This was his response to Shinseki.

Like everyone else, I’m mad about what has happened at the Phoenix VA Hospital – but my frustration is wholly different than that expressed by politicians from both sides since news broke of secret waiting lists and veterans dying while they wait for care.
I’m mad because this has been an issue for years, and Presidents and members of Congress from both parties haven’t done anything. I’m mad that politicians who have consistently voted against fully funding the VA are now acting like they’re coming to our rescue by calling for a politically expedient resignation. And I’m mad that these same politicians sent us to war without funding for proper armor or health care when we got home.
I’ve been watching Republicans and Democrats eagerly jump to score easy political points over what was happening at the Phoenix VA for weeks. I hope they will be just as eager to "stand up" for our veterans the next time they vote on funding for the VA, health and education benefits for veterans or vote to send us down range.

The primary is in August.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
  Business
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:48 PM Inking the Deal Why tattoo parlors are a great small-business bet.
  Life
Outward
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?