The VA slow walk goes on for lack of an exception process

We talked about this before, there’s a process the White House has embraced to deal with its ‘scandals’.  Loosely defined, that process is:

  1. President says he never heard about govt corruption / incompetence from cabinet, says he heard hears about scandal on the news
  2. President is outraged, but notes a) scandal is not systemic, it’s because of rogue bureaucrats in the field b) scandal started under Bush
  3. Scandal is slow walked for a couple months, at which point it becomes a “phony scandal”.  This is done with some assistance of sycophantic lefty media, who take cues from the Whitehouse to argue a) Republicans are misconstruing scandal facts because they are dumb b) Republicans are misconstruing scandal facts because they are racists
  4. Scandal is slow walked for a couple years, at which point it becomes ‘old news”.

Ya figure at its core this is largely just a plain old news management process, good, bad or indifferent.  It’s a methodical process, process is good, and process is what you use for consistency of execution and results.  Insofar as it’s wholly insincere and often a bunch of lies, that’s PR and news management for ya.  But it’s fair to note this is also driven by a knee jerk instinct to protect the myth of Obama Administration hyper-competence… which they are a bit mental about for various reasons.

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/05/barack-obama-undecided-on-eric-shinseki-107201.html

In any event, as I say, process is good, but it’s a universal truth that sometimes you encounter problems that make themselves impervious to standard process.  In that case you have to do something else.  In life we call these “exceptions”.

I’m mystified the White House didn’t figure out here early that the VA / Shinseki is ripe for an exception to the standard process.  Especially because they would seem to be recipient of advanced insight, ie discrediting facts that will eventually come out to make impossible the ability to sell “not systemic / rogue bureaucrats” and “phony scandal.”  You figure also they ought to have some sense for the limits of what their media sycophants can be asked to parrot vis a vis who’s ox is gored right now.  In that analysis you’d understand that it’s Carney’s douchetalk pitted against veterans.  Veterans are on one of the highest pedestals in our society.  It’s a very awkward ask here to make the sycophantic media choose douchetalk over vets.

So the obvious, alternate path would have been to fire Shinseki and clean house, almost immediately.  Yes, you would have to sort of allow an Obama administration competence issue to escape there into the wild.  But this is actually remediated somewhat or perhaps entirely by the appearance of swift, executive action.  It gets rid of the “Obama never holds anyone accountable’ meme.   Most importantly, it actually has the appearance of taking the side of vets.  That’s always a winner, no matter what the circumstances are that prompt you to do it.

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2 thoughts on “The VA slow walk goes on for lack of an exception process

  1. pm1956

    I think that you are forgetting a few things in your partisan hurry to attack Obama:

    1. Vets are not calling for Shinseki’s head…at least not yet. Part of this is because Shinseki is himself a highly regarded vet (he is the one who called Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld out as liars for trying to do 2 wars at the same time without sufficient manpower/resources) with a history of speaking truth to power (what he is essentially being accused of failing to do here). Most vets remember him as the one guy in DC who was willing to stand up for the soldiers, the guys who were going to be bearing the brunt of the “hunt for WMDs”. Also, many vets see this situation as being politicized, and they want answers, not political scalps.

    http://m.startribune.com/news/?id=260812821&c=y

    2. Firing Shinseki might be great PR, but it might not actually help resolve the problem. Obama has pretty consistently tried to solve problem, rather than play “smart” politics. Same thing that happened with Sibelius. He seems to prefer to ride out the political, inside the Beltway, wisdom of the moment, and try rather to do what really makes sense, as opposed to running with the herd mentality. I am not at all sure that is a bad thing.

    http://www.kansascity.com/2014/05/29/5054118/blunt-no-need-for-shinseki-to.html

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/why-firing-shinseki-won-t-do-anything-to-fix-the-va

    Reply
    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      I don’t think it’s necessary that firing Shinseki ‘fix’ the VAs chronicled, long-term problem regarding wait times. I reject any premise that argues the effectiveness of a ‘fix’ that the Shinseki firing would bring.

      He needs to be fired because he’s been there 5 years, and regional admins were gaming their wait lists under his leadership, and he never knew about it. Or he did know about it. He needs to be fired because in committee ten days ago, he was highly ambiguous as to whether these admins will lose their jobs or be prosecuted.

      That’s it. It’s not political, or it ought not be.

      Reply

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