What defines a scandal to the so-called mainstream media? That everyone is paying attention to it and it’s not just perceived as a political issue. Through five-plus years of rank incompetence and myriad scandals, the media has bubble-wrapped Obama from scandal to scandal, be it Fast & Furious, the IRS targeting, Benghazi, you name it.
They’ve figured by ignoring them they’ll just go away and they can get back to the real issues, like climate change and the minimum wage or whatever distractions the Democrats toss out there day to day. Well, now that’s changing with Obama’s latest scandal, the VA fiasco, and even Democrats are running for the tall grass.
The White House tried Tuesday to douse flames of criticism over allegations that dozens of veterans have died because of gross mismanagement at Veterans Affairs hospitals.
President Obama’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, met frustrated Democrats on Capitol Hill who are outraged by reports of secret waiting lists used by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
McDonough’s deputy, Rob Nabors, whom Obama ordered last week to run an internal review of VA practices and procedures, met for talks with six veterans advocacy groups, including the American Legion, which has called for the ouster of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki.
On Wednesday, Nabors will head to Phoenix, where up to 40 veterans died allegedly due to treatment delays.
The administration’s coordinated response highlighted how much the scandal is damaging Obama as Republicans blast administration incompetence months before November’s midterm elections.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a statement that he is “disturbed” by news reports that Obama learned of alleged abuses through the media.
That even one person takes as serious the administrations claim of learning this through the media is absurd. But oh, they’ll try and have you believe it.
Conservatives are excoriating what they see as a lack of media coverage of administration culpability in the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 and of Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups. But there has been no lack of reporting on the deaths and VA waiting lists.
White House briefings have been dominated by questions over the administration’s response, especially from traditional television networks, which cater to an aging population for whom veterans hospitals often play a critical role.
The administration’s initial response to the scandal seems only to have worsened perceptions about how it has handled the issue, and led to criticism of Shinseki.
Team Obama figures they can always ignore scandals so long as they have their compliant media and cultural stooges on board to run interference. But when they lose the dim bulbs like Jon Stewart, then it’s panic time.
On the “Daily Show,” Stewart joked that Shinseki’s “mad as hell face” looked “a lot like your, ‘Oh, we’re out of orange juice’ face.”
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University, said Shinseki is an ineffective front man for the administration’s clean-up efforts — much like Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius during the ObamaCare rollout.
“His affect is impassive and unemotional — a pure technocrat,” Jillson said. “So it looks like when a serious problem is uncovered that has an emotional dimension to it, that they didn’t get it, didn’t care, weren’t moving as forcefully as they should have been.”
And White House press secretary Jay Carney has occasionally stumbled while fielding a barrage of questions on the VA.
Carney’s concession that Obama had first learned about allegations of misconduct at the Phoenix veterans center also enabled GOP attacks, such as the one from Cantor, suggesting the president is oblivious about what is going on inside his administration.
On Tuesday, Carney apologized for a “lack of clarity on my part,” and said Obama had long been aware of systematic problems with the department.
Lack of clarity? Translation: We lied to your faces, and for once you didn’t but it.