In this photo taken Aug. 2, 2010, Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki listens to President Barack Obama speak about Iraq and Afghanistan at the Disabled...
AP Photo/Charles Dharapak

On Shinseki and the VA, President Obama must act


Let me finish tonight with the big news we began with: the report about the Dept. of Veterans Affairs.

There are scandals, and there are scandals. Whitewater, the big noise in the Clinton administration, turned out to be a dud. As Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, California (not that it was in any way a nice or fair thing to say): “When you get there, there isn’t any there there.”

The same may well be true of Benghazi, the IRS, “fast and furious,” the nasty bouquet of conversation pieces the Republicans like to present to the American public whenever they approach a live microphone.

The same is now most certainly not true of the fairly named “VA scandal.”

The idea that America’s fighting men and women have to wait four months to see a doctor and then, to add insult to injury, have it recorded that they only had to wait a month (which is bad enough!) is not something an administration can live with.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, 5/28/14, 8:27 PM ET

Matthews: The president must act

Chris Matthews responds to the new report that confirms the allegations against the VA hospital in Phoenix, and says President Obama must act swiftly to punish those responsible.
The president needs to say now that he, not a member of his Cabinet, is the top officer in such matters. When a crisis occurs, he, the commander-in-chief, is the top officer–the one, as Harry Truman well said, where the buck stops.

He, not General Shinseki, was elected as the country’s chief executive. He, not General Shinseki, is the one who has to act.

The British have a wonderful way of taking responsibility. When a Cabinet minister presides over a departmental scandal, he is the one who must resign. We don’t have that system here–at least not anymore. When there’s a scandal, the president is the one who has to act himself. If he doesn’t, he gets blamed himself. 

This is one of those times when the people are watching intently to see not just that the lights are on at the White House, but that somebody’s home.

Eric Shinseki

On Shinseki and the VA, President Obama must act