Did you think the right would actually be embarrassed by the Walter Reed scandal? Nahhh -- when the Bush administration provides lemons, right-wingers make lemonade. According to the editorial page of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Walter Reed scandal proves that left-wingers are the bad guys:
...this is how the government deals with the brave men and women currently risking their lives in combat -- our high profile, frontline troops.
...Yet many in Congress still blithely argue the solution to the nation's health care problems ... is to put us all in the care of a government monopoly.
That would be a monopoly of the kind that has failed so scandalously at Walter Reed and in the nation's VA hospitals -- though one a hundred times as large.
Sure, that'll work. What next? A "five-year plan" for agriculture?
Get it now? You may have thought that the lesson of Walter Reed is that government doesn't work when it's run by people who don't give a damn whether it works, and the federal government does everything wrong when the president of the United States is a person who's never successfully followed through on anything in nearly four decades of adult life. Silly you! The lesson is that all government social programs are communism! And communism doesn't work!
Also see the Volokh Conspiracy, enthusiastically quoted by Michelle Malkin:
If private companies had mismanaged outpatient care for veterans the way the V.A. system has, there would be strong calls from all the usual quarters for a government takeover, and proclamations of how we can't trust "greedy" for-profit companies to take care of veterans. Funny how this thought process doesn't seem to work in reverse, except among "free market ideologues," who have been criticizing the V.A. for years.
It doesn't "work in reverse" for an obvious reason: We don't control private companies. We don't own them and we don't vote for the people who run them. Yes, we do if we own stock in those companies (or, more precisely, if we own enough stock). But what percentage of Americans own a sufficient amount stock in, say, Halliburton to have a say in how it does business?
This is our damn government. We own it. Heads are rolling in the Walter Reed scandal because we, as voters, have demanded accountability -- and we actually seem to be getting it from people who periodically have to be reelected by us. I know that makes capitalism fetishists' heads explode, but there you are.
AND, OF COURSE: As Paul Krugman notes today, privatization actually has been taking place and may be part of the Walter Reed problem:
... The redoubtable Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, points out that IAP Worldwide Services, a company run by two former Halliburton executives, received a large contract to run Walter Reed under suspicious circumstances: the Army reversed the results of an audit concluding that government employees could do the job more cheaply.
And Mr. Waxman, who will be holding a hearing on the issue today, appears to have solid evidence, including an internal Walter Reed memo from last year, that the prospect of privatization led to a FEMA-type exodus of skilled personnel....
More at the Mahablog.
Also see "Smoking Gun: Walter Reed scandal connected to Halliburton & FEMA?" at Alternet PEEK. The head of IAP is an ex-Halliburton official and IAP was investigated by Congress for problems with post-Katrina ice delivery.