[Ed. – Skilled speechmaker? Are you kidding?]
We don’t normally expect our presidents to pay close attention to how long veterans are being asked to wait for care in the vast medical system run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But we do expect presidents to appoint Cabinet officers and other aides who can run the federal government well — well enough, at least, to prevent full-blown scandals from erupting.
That’s what the VA’s long-running scheduling problems have turned into after reports that veterans died while waiting for medical care — and bureaucrats apparently manipulated records to make their performance look good when it wasn’t.
No one can read the stories of individual veterans who suffered at the hands of the bureaucracy — like Edward Laird, a 76-year-old Navy veteran who lost half of his nose because he had to wait two years for cancer tests — without feeling helpless fury.
And those stories are certain to keep coming.
It’s an especially dangerous scandal for President Obama because it fits into an established narrative about his presidency: that he’s a skilled politician and speechmaker but a lousy manager.