27 April 2014

Thank goodness someone is going to get to the bottom of things at Walter Reed's Roach Motel, aka Building 18.



            That likely will be Bob Dole and Donna Shalala. Maybe also Defense Secretary Bob Gates. It won't be George W. Bush.



            He's The Decider, not The Doer. Name one success of this two-term administration. Does the name Osama bin Forgotten ring a bell?



            The Decider decided to delegate, as usual. He got Dole and Shalala to head a bipartisan blue-ribbon commission. Fret not, you legless warriors and brain-damaged souls. If we can't fix the system, let's study it to death.



            Bush didn't address the vets he sent to war, the folks who got the runaround from their government. He didn't talk with members of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. Bush took his USO tour to the American Legion instead.



            Why should Bush apologize to the Pat Tillman generation when he can be applauded by the Dole generation?



            In speeches, Bush doesn't inspire as much as he gives cues. To the old timers, Bush said, "We have a moral obligation to provide the best possible care and treatment to the men and women who have served our country." Applause. "They deserve it, and they're going to get it." More applause.



            Something to look forward to is Sen. Claire McCaskill's Dignity for Wounded Warriors Act, co-sponsored in the Senate by Barack Obama. Reps. Rahm Emanuel and Harry Mitchell are House co-sponsors. Their legislation would create an oversight panel to monitor Pentagon compliance with quality care for wounded vets.



            Bush and Dick Cheney have shamelessly used active-duty troops as props for their political propaganda machine. But Bush stooped to a new low when he called upon warriors of "The Good War" to justify actions affecting warriors in The Unnecessary War.



            Bush responded to furor over vet care as he did complaints about the welfare of Katrina survivors. He waited, said nothing and then did nothing but find a photo op. With the Bushvolk, it's about the politics, not the people.



            After Katrina, Bush skipped the devastated Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans to talk to the nation from the nearly intact French Quarter in an empty Jackson Square.



            What folks there remember is that after Bush spoke, the powerful mobile generators used to illuminate his evening address were packed and shipped out. Meanwhile, people just blocks away were getting by in the damp darkness. How's that for fulfilling "a moral obligation"?



            On Capitol Hill, Rep. Henry Waxman noted that the Post exposed existing problems with outpatient care, but that overall neglect and slow service are part of an old and bigger story.



            He cited reports in 2005 by Salon and a Rand study for the Pentagon. Like Brownie in Katrina, Rummy did "a heckuva job." So has Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, Army surgeon general, who commanded Walter Reed from 2002 to 2004. The only thing Kiley is fit to lead now is latrine detail.



            As Waxman concluded, the paper trail is too long and testimonies of vets and families too convincing for the denials of people who said they knew nothing until they read it in the Post to be believable.



            Expect Bush to respond to the Dole-Shalala commission as he did to the 9/11 Commission and The Iraq Study Group. He'll support their recommendations in theory and ignore them in practice. He does this with legislation through unconstitutional presidential signing statements.



            Nothing against the elder statesman and the professor, but Dole and Shalala ought not expect Bush to take their panel's recommendations seriously.



            That's because the motto of the Bush administration isn't "Leave no man behind," it's "No good deed goes unpunished," or in Latin, "E pluribus skrooed."



            Rhonda Chriss Lokeman (lokeman@kcstar.com) is a columnist for the Kansas City Star. To find out more about Rhonda Chriss Lokeman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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