May 30, 2013

Is it criminal behavior to know when a crime is being committed, on a continual basis, and then do nothing about it? If you or I were in the know, the answer would be "YES." But when it comes to a Democratic Administration, and particularly a Chicago-style crony administration like Barack Obama's, the answer is an unequivocal "NO."

Having defined what criminal knowledge is and is not, the Veterans Affairs Inspector General has released a report which, to any other President would mean the end of his career, but to this administration, merely gets a little traction, mostly from FOX News and conservative talk radio.

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 IG's interim report 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.

The news is still fresh as I write this column on Thursday afternoon. If by the time it is read, 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.

Even if Obama asks Holder to investigate, the so-called investigation will drag on for months, no years, like the IRS investigation drags on. Holder will pay the lip service and do nothing about it as he sees his President winking with the order to look into it.

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 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.

It won't take more than a few days, or I dare say even hours, before other lawyers look into whether the potential false statements, the detrimental reliance of those who suffered waiting for medical treatment and the alleged deaths that ensued amount to more than just slap-on-the-wrist crimes. Was this "only" a breach of the public trust by those who run the hospitals to treat our most honored heroes? Or was this perhaps negligence, resulting in the death of veterans who could otherwise have been saved or at least provided with alternative treatment?

Could all this have taken place without knowledge by VA employees of the massive fraud being perpetrated and the likely fatal results such deception would lead to? If not, then we go from the usual white lie, so pervasive and so ignored in recent years under this administration, to matters of homicide.

Yes, this whole situation could be just that serious. Would this then qualify as a "high crime" necessary enough for articles of impeachment? I won't hold my breath.

This comes as no shock to many following the story. And that begs the bigger question of why the White House has allowed VA Secretary Shinseki to defiantly remain in his position, even as the nation pays homage to our war dead on Memorial Day, with veterans suffering or dying all the while.

And just as important, to what level of winking and nodding, game playing and bureaucratic white washing has the federal government sunk to?

This is the final straw, and it will permanently decide how the Obama years are measured. We will wait and see; that is, if our "waitlist" really exists! In the meantime, Obama will do nothing, Holder won't investigate, Shinseki won't resign and Obama-style and sanctioned criminal behavior will go unpunished.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.