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ALLARD: The righteous anger of wronged veterans
The president has only just begun to hear their reproach

By Ken Allard

Finally appearing on Wednesday before White House reporters to address the growing Veteran Affairs (VA) scandal, the normally glib President Obama stumbled noticeably, probably for the three reasons.

First, as a deeply committed ideological liberal, the president is totally lost at sea addressing any problem that could not be solved simply by throwing billions of dollars at it. Hey, we increased VA’s budget so what are all those old guys complaining about?

Second, never having managed anything larger than a lemonade stand, the president doesn’t grasp basic management concepts in which macro-level words and promises don’t always translate into micro-level actions. C’mon now, haven’t the first lady and Jill Biden always sympathized with veterans and their families? Isn’t that enough?

Finally, with his historical legacy now synonymous with health care, the president was viscerally uncomfortable with the one aspect of the VA crisis he understood most clearly: If big government couldn’t adequately care for a few million veterans, then how on earth would it cope with several hundred million new Obamacare signatories? OK, so assuming the website actually works, how will millions of ordinary Americans react if they have to deal with phantom waiting lists and lost records?

While the president seemed tentative and uncertain, Democratic Rep. David Scott of Georgia was forthright, articulate and downright angry. Standing in the well of the House, Mr. Scott sounded like a crusading Southern preacher recounting the sins of the VA leadership: “The buck stops at the top.” Decrying the 5,600 veteran suicides taking place every year on the administration’s watch, Mr. Scott recounted that four of those suicides had occurred in Atlanta’s VA hospital, all due to a lack of management despite official denials: “They told a damned lie.” Pronouncing himself “so disappointed” with Mr. Obama’s recent remarks, the congressman — a Wharton business school graduate — called for urgency and partnership in addressing the currently dysfunctional system of veterans’ health care.

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