It came one day after our national holiday devoted to remembering those who lost their lives defending America. The broadening and apparently national scandal surrounding shoddy and negligent treatment of veterans in desperate need of health care from a government agency charged with providing it to them just officially rose to a potentially criminal level.
It's inexplicable how in the world this president and his administration are so slow to react to virtually every issue, from Benghazi to the IRS targeting to the first reports of the mishandling of so many cases by the Veterans Administration. How they can ignore this situation is confounding. And as this story further unfolds, the issue might not be whether heads roll and those responsible face serious charges, but rather why it has taken this long.
The VA office of inspector general has released an interim report that provided information suggesting that workers understated patient wait times to make their internal reporting look good at the facility in Phoenix. Some 1,700 veterans seeking medical care were told they were on a waitlist for appointments. In fact, there never was such a list.
There have been accusations that some 40 veterans have died while on alleged waitlists in Phoenix alone.
The same report, while focusing on Phoenix, suggested that a growing number of facilities are believed to have inappropriate scheduling practices throughout the VA system.
Now we wait to see if a president who has lost the respect of the international community for his bark followed by no bite, who has thumbed his nose at obvious abuse of the IRS and who has never owned up to the fiasco and cover-up surrounding the deaths of Americans serving our nation in Benghazi will finally have the backbone to clean house at the VA and unleash his Justice Department on a truly criminal matter.
As this column is written, the news is fresh. If by the time most read it, President Obama has not fired Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki nor asked for a criminal investigation from Attorney General Eric Holder, then Obama will have failed a nation and permanently destroyed his legacy.
There are rare moments when a leader must act impulsively, on basic gut instinct. Not every issue can be studied to death like some interesting case law in a second-year law class. And upon occasion, a president must act out of true anger and act in a way that lets the American people know that he means it. For Barack Obama, zero hour has come. And even if it comes before other eyes read this commentary, it must be examined for its bluntness, its clarity and its force.
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