Given the deep reverence for veterans that exists in Americans of all political stripes and Democrats’ already-precarious electoral position ahead of the 2014 midterm, the media’s best and brightest seem to be concluding that this could tip the balance something fierce.
This CNN segment demonstrates the power of this issue. When bureaucrats cause dozens of veterans to die, and the White House goes into CYA mode, the issue is just too powerful for anyone to write it off as a partisan witch hunt.
George Condon, Jr., has a good piece exploring this at National Journal:
“The one that I think hurts the Democrats the most is not Benghazi, is not IRS, is not Obamacare,” said veteran Ohio Democratic strategist Jerry Austin. “It is the Veterans Administration. The idea of having wounded warriors dying and all these terrible stories here, that is something that no one can defend.”
…Longtime Republican strategist Rich Galen sees the same thing. “Benghazi and IRS, those are things that have the coastal press rolling their eyes,” he said. “But this VA thing is huge. If I were the Republican Conference, I would give up everything else and just throw both feet into the VA.”
As Austin suggested, Democrats are not rushing onto television to defend either the VA or the administration’s handling of veteran claims. One of the few senators willing to do so has been Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent. And it didn’t go particularly well for him when he was interviewed Thursday morning on CNN’s New Day.
Here’s that Sanders appearance on CNN. It’s an interesting contrast to watch the Left discuss Obamacare and Medicaid expansion, arguing with a straight face that a lack of insurance will result in X number of deaths, yet suddenly there’s a standard of reasonable doubt about cases in which veterans were literally denied appointments until they died.
Finally, here’s an old clip of Sanders, proudly describing the VA as “socialized medicine.” VA horror stories are actually nothing new, but the current circumstance makes this speech a lot more interesting in retrospect. Under socialized medicine, your life pretty much depends on unmotivated bureaucrats. There is no further recourse and when things go wrong, you just suffer unnecessarily or even die.