May 23, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Socialist Supermodel: Not long ago, the left raved about the VA.

Paul Waldman, Greg Sargent’s deputy, sees broader ideological implications. “If Democrats are going to argue that government can be a force for good, their most basic responsibility is to make government work,” he writes. (An odd statement. It seems to us making government work is the “most basic responsibility” of anyone who chooses a career in the public sector, regardless of ideology.)

“As troubling as some of these allegations are, this controversy presents an opportunity for the administration,” Waldman continues. “This isn’t some kind of phony scandal like Benghazi: it’s a real issue with real consequences.” Christopher Stevens could not be reached for comment.

If, by the end of Obama’s term in 2017, “officials can say that every veteran who needs care is getting it without having to wait an unreasonably long time,” that “wouldn’t be just a victory for this administration” but also “a victory for the liberal vision of effective government.”

To which we’d add that if officials can truthfully say it, it’ll be a victory for the veterans too. . . .

The “secret” of the VA’s “success,” Krugman argued, “is the fact that it’s a universal, integrated system.” That saves on administrative costs and allows for efficient record-keeping. Krugman acknowledged that the VA had a history of mismanagement and mediocre care, until “reforms beginning in the mid-1990’s transformed the system.” But wait. Hasn’t it been a universal, integrated system all along? Maybe the secret is something else. At any rate, the Phoenix revelations suggest it’s the system’s failures that are being kept secret.

Well, as a former Enron adviser, Krugman has experience with spectacular failures that are preceded by hype aimed at the rubes.

Plus: “If Krugman is to be believed–a big ‘if,’ to be sure–the Bush administration did a far better job running the VA than the Obama administration is doing now.”