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Topics: Veterans Affairs

Obama acts like he doesn't care about growing Veterans Affairs scandal

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Barack Obama,Veterans Affairs,2014 Elections,Veterans,Charles Hoskinson,Eric Shinseki

You'll know it when President Obama really cares about something, because he can't stop talking about it.

Raising the minimum wage? Check. Climate change? Never misses an opportunity. Amnesty for illegal immigrants? Did that on Tuesday for what seems like the 100th time.

But there's one thing Obama doesn't talk about: the growing scandal over medical care for the nation's veterans.

There's a new story almost every day about how the Department of Veterans Affairs continues to fail veterans under its care. The drumbeat of media attention has led the American Legion and a growing list of lawmakers to demand the resignation of Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.

What was Obama's response? To say -- through a spokesman -- that he has confidence in Shinseki and has ordered him to investigate.

Remember -- this is the same guy who found the time to pick up the phone over the weekend and personally congratulate gay football player Michael Sam on being drafted by the NFL -- when he wasn't playing golf. The same guy who attended five Democratic fundraisers in California over the past week, and has two others scheduled for Wednesday night in New York City.

And Obama is the same guy who never seems to miss an opportunity to weigh in even when it's not a matter of federal policy -- remember how Cambridge, Mass., police were "acting stupidly" when they arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates in 2009? Or how his son would be just like Trayvon Martin if he had one?

When Obama cares, he makes the time to let Americans know about it. That's why it's not hard to conclude that he doesn't care about the fact that veterans are dying from bad care in hospitals that are under the direct control of his administration.

And I'm not the only one who's noticed. Here's what House Veterans' Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Fla., had to say about it on Tuesday:

Judging by the throngs of veterans, families and whistleblowers who keep courageously stepping forward, VA’s delays in care problem is growing in size and scope by the day. That’s why I am asking for President Obama’s personal involvement in helping fix this crisis. For nearly a year, we have been pleading with top Department of Veterans Affairs leaders and the president to take immediate steps to stop the growing pattern of preventable veteran deaths and hold accountable any and all VA employees who have allowed patients to slip through the cracks. In response, we’ve received disturbing silence from the White House and one excuse after another from VA. Right now, President Obama is faced with a stark choice: take immediate action to help us end the culture of complacency that is engulfing the Veterans Health Administration and compromising patient safety, or explain to the American people and America’s veterans why we should tolerate the status quo.

So what do all those issues Obama talks about have that health care for veterans doesn't? The ability to mobilize Democratic voters.

The White House is in full campaign mode. Everything Obama does is calculated to rally the Democratic base and prevent a GOP takeover of the Senate, which would severely constrain him for the rest of his presidency. And admitting to another serious scandal on his watch is likely to rally Republican voters instead.

Since veterans can't help Democrats win, Obama won't help them get the quality care they deserve — unless political pressure forces him to do it.

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