THE VA'S PROBLEMS REALLY ARE A SCANDAL. WHY HASN'T THE GOP MADE THE VA THE NEW BENGHAZI/IRS/OBAMACARE?
The right-wing noise machine has spent the Obama years flooding the zone with angry talk about so-called scandals. Three have gotten the most attention by far: Obamacare and its real or imagined shortcomings, the IRS and its real or imagined persecution of right-wiong groups, and, of course, Benghazi! Benghazi! Benghazi!
Meanwhile, the Veterans Administration really has been falling down on the job -- yet the VA's problems have never become the obsession of the right the way Obamacare, the IRS, and Benghazi have.
Why? Why aren't Republican candidates in the midterms making huge ad buys to run commercials about the VA's failings? Why aren't there multiple House committees staging endless investigations of the VA's problems, with documents gleefully leaked to friendly news operations every time there's a lull in the news cycle? Why isn't Fox running several segments on the VA every night? Why hasn't Eric Shinseki become Public Enemy No. 1, like Lois Lerner or Kathleen Sebelius?
Is it because the problems didn't originate with the Obama administration? Well, the economic collapse of 2008 happened on George W. Bush's watch, and Republicans have gotten very good at arguing that Obama is a whiner who blames Bush for everything.
Is it because it's a reminder that many of the servicemembers in need got to where they are because of unpopular Bush wars? But Benghazi is an indirect reminder that America's relations with the Arab-Muslim world worsened as a result of Bush's bungled wars -- and of the fact that Bush failed to focus on Al Qaeda after 9/11.
I think Cui bono? applies here.
Who would benefit if the right-wing "wins" the IRS scandal? Obviously, the victors would be billionaire political movers and shakers, who would be even freer than they are now to manipulate elections. Most of these billionaires would be Republican, of course.
Who benefits if the right triumphs on Obamacare? Either we go back to the status quo ante -- no guaranteed coverage for those with expensive preexisting conditions and so on -- or we shift to the GOP's wish list: tort reform that effectively makes it impossible for ordinary citizens to file medical lawsuits; insurance sold across state lines (which will all be sold out of one or two states that pass extremely industry-friendly laws); medical savings accounts and voucherized Medicare (which will shift more of the health care burden to individuals, who'll be told it's their fault if they can't cover their expenses). In other words, a big win for Big Medicine.
Who would benefit from a GOP triumph on Benghazi? The message would be that Obama is weak and Republicans stand up for America when it's threatened by evil brown people. That's music to the ears of neocons and defense contractors.
Now: who'd be the beneficiaries if Republicans went wall-to-wall on the VA's failings and the resulting scandal actually led to improvements in how the VA does business?
Well, veterans, obviously -- and you'd think right-wingers would want to play to veterans, and to others who are pro-military. But fixing the VA would cost money -- and while it might be argued that the VA's problems can't be solved just by throwing money at them, they certainly can't be solved without money. Lots of it.
And that would be social spending -- social spending on veterans, to be sure, but social spending nonetheless. The billionaires who fund the GOP don't want that. The chickenhawk neocons who dominate Republican foreign policy thinking want to fight wars, but they don't give a crap about the people who actually do that fighting.
And, ultimately, the right isn't going to go Full Metal VA because right-wingers don't really want any government social-service agency to function properly. Heaven forbid that Americans start believing in the ability of government to solve problems, not just create them.
So here's a scandal handed to the right on a silver platter. And the right doesn't really care. Yes, Shinseki is on the hot seat today. But wake me when every D.C. news story is described by the right as an attempt to distract us from the VA scandal.