Cohen Distancing Himself From Scandal

Isn’t it interesting that the Veterans Affairs scandal has been as absent from the CA front page as Obama is during a crisis, but when Rep. Steve Cohen needs to distance himself from it, it’s suddenly on the front page.

Cohen, being the good Obama toady that he is, has shied away from any criticism whatsoever of the president. IRS targeting Obama’s enemies? Cohen brushes it off as a GOP obsession. Health care website troubles? Cohen dismisses it as Republican exaggeration. Benghazi scandal? Obama’s in the clear, it’s partisan politics.

But as this scandal widens, Cohen finds himself in the critic’s corner. Sort of. He still doesn’t blame Obama, but he doesn’t want to get tarred with the scandal.

In his email roundup of his week in Washington, Cohen said:

With Memorial Day approaching, President Obama spoke to the nation on Wednesday about widespread reports calling into question the management of and quality of care provided at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs) in several states including Tennessee. Both President Obama and I are committed to ensuring that those who risked life and limb for this country receive the finest care available when they come home—and I am very disappointed with these reports. With more and more of our nation’s veterans returning from combat suffering from PTSD and other serious conditions, I will continue working with President Obama to make sure they are treated with the utmost respect and receive timely, high-quality care at the Memphis VAMC or any other VAMC.

Immediately after the VA Inspector General released a report documenting three deaths at the Memphis VAMC that may have been preventable, I invited Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki to visit our city’s VAMC so that he could see firsthand the problems there and better understand the needs of the Memphis veteran community. This week, I also voted to pass bipartisan legislation that would give the Secretary of Veterans Affairs broader authority to remove failing or ineffective VAMC employees from their posts. People who provide substandard care to our soldiers don’t deserve to be rewarded by being able to keep their jobs, they should be punished.

Then in Sunday’s newspaper he’s quoted as saying “…if people are doctoring the books and doing things to jeopardize their health, I think there ought to be quick action.”

He’s not going much out on a limb, is he? He tries sidestepping whether Shinseki came or would come to our VA hospital. All he says is that he is waiting for a follow up report from the inspector general’s office.

Looks like the administration is expecting this issue to go away. Given the short attention span of Americans, it very well might, especially since the Memorial Day weekend distracted Americans from the issue. I’m sure Cohen hopes so, too. The CA obliged by giving him the opportunity to show his displeasure, but not really do anything about it.

In his email he goes on to scold Gov. Haslam: “By failing to expand TennCare, Tennessee is conveying a message that the State has little concern for the neediest, sickest, and most desperate of its citizens.” Maybe he needs to talk to former Gov. Bredesen because he found out it would bankrupt our state.

How he is helping stimulate our economy: “This week, President Obama’s administration selected Memphis to be one of the first communities in America eligible for a new technical assistance program called ‘311 for Cities,’ which is aimed at helping grow our economy and reduce unemployment. I hope we are able to make the most of the President’s selection and use these new resources as a stepping stone on the path towards getting a Promise Zone designation as soon as possible.” In other words, taxpayers watch your wallet.

Cohen took to the House floor to celebrate Memphis in May (aren’t there pressing problems to attend to?). And he took time to praise the Monuments Men: “On Monday, the House voted to approve the Monuments Men Recognition Act, which I cosponsored with Congresswoman Kay Granger (a Republican from Texas), and the Senate voted to pass it this week as well. Now that it has passed both houses of Congress, our bipartisan legislation will ensure that the World War II unit known as the Monuments Men receives a Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest recognition for distinguished achievements and contributions. After single-handedly securing nearly half the signatures required and being credited by Representative Granger as the person responsible for the bill’s passage, I am glad to see that the Monuments Men are being recognized by Congress.” Isn’t this a little late as most of them are dead? And didn’t he manage to get in some self praise at the same time.

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