Thursday, May 15, 2014


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.


CCB said...

I bet they'll be happy to spend as much money as possible on a privatized VA, funneling all the cuts to safety net programs to their cronies in Big Medicine...

Victor said...

Yes, I agree, social spending is a large part of it.

But so is the fact that since LBJ didn't run for reelection because of Vietnam, it's the Republicans who have created most of the veterans - by getting the US involved in mostly senseless wars and occupations.
The first Persian Gulf War was probably necessary.
But Grenada, the Panama invasion, and "Bush's Follies," weren't necessary at all.

The Republicans created them, they broke them, they've been under-funding the VA whenever they get near the purse-strings, and they'd sooner ignore them, than to even use them in a badly needed scandal.

Better to leave sleeping dog-tags lie.

And, if Congress really wanted to help, they SHOULD throw a lot money at the VA - for new computers, and for the people who'll need to install them, and people who could have years of work just correcting existing information and inputting backlogged data.

Good jobs - one and all.
But then, jobs are now a "social issue," as well.
If you're got a good one - congratulations.
If you don't, well, it's your fault.
Pick yourself up by your bootstraps, losers and moocher wannabe's.

Unknown said...

They'll just toss it in casually as part of the "government can't do anything right" propaganda.

There's also this: "'d think right-wingers would want to play to veterans, and to others who are pro-military."

Veterans aren't uniformly pro-military, at least not in the way the GOP Superpatriots (who virtually never actually served themselves) define it.

Grung_e_Gene said...

Most of the problems President Obama is dealing with originated with W(orst President Ever)'s maladministration.

But, see the VA is part of the DoD and the Repukelicans can't go after the VA without embroiling the military (The Americans Scared Cow) in the affair.

Unknown said...

Not sure if you know this Steve, but GWB was hard at word trying to CLOSE VA hospitals in early 2003 at the very moment he was trying to send all those troops to Iraq...supposedly to face WMDs of all types. (I lived near the VA facility in Big Spring TX at the time.) When I wrote about that absurdity at the time, I had to speculate it showed consciousness of the absense of WMDs in Iraq.

Ten Bears said...

This VietNam Veteran is 1) not proud of what he has done, 2) not proud of what we have become and 3) of the firm conviction we should shut down the military industrial complex down and MAKE WAR NO MORE.

I have long held the mass of humanity as maggots: a few will evolve and escape, the vast majority will consume the host and die. We as a species stand at a cusp, at an evolutional iteration, but if we don't abandon our adolescent squabbles ore whose imaginary dog has the bigger dick we won't survive at all. Like Israel, an utterly foreign occupier perpetrating an American Taxpayer concieved, financed and morally sanctioned genocide upon the indigenous descendants of the "biblical hebrew", this world will never know Peace until the Jew "Christian" Muslim Mormon Cult of Male Domination is completely and utterly destroyed.

Tea Baggers are not only ignorant racist assholes but cowards, candyasses and cocksuckers and a threat to my seven grandchildren's survival. The sound you don't hear is me jacking a round into my well oiled AR.

No fear.

Phoenix Justice said...

Since the war on the VA was started by St. Ronnie, they don't want to denigrate their demigod by people being reminded as such. Not to mention every current Republican up for reelection doesn't want it brought up that they voted for $500 million less than the President asked for.

In short, the Republicans are scared that everyone will know the truth and that they can't just have.

steeve said...

For the republican party, "winning" means making any democrat look bad by the bluntest, most shortsighted means possible. So I don't think this analysis covers it.

But for that matter, I don't understand why the republicans aren't holding hearings about how Obama blew up the moon. The fact that the moon is still there wouldn't be a deterrent - no journalist would bring it up in an interview, and no republican voter would draw the connection.