Fresh from its new-found concern for American diplomats — you’ll recall that up until September 11, 2012, Republicans hated the State Department and regularly accused American diplomats of all being communists — the Republican party has now discovered Veterans!
(One pines for the day that the GOP also discovers women, gays, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants. But I digress.)
In light of the recent news that Veterans Administration hospitals are still having serious problems — we first reported on the problems at the VA back in the Bush days, when Republicans cared a lot less about the issue — the GOP is launching a new Web site to ask Americans to share their VA horror stories. (It’s as of yet unclear what the Republicans plan to do with the stories dated pre-2009.)
Unlike the GOP leadership in Washington, some of us were concerned about Vets before it was cool. We, for examle, wrote about the Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post series about the horrendous conditions at Walter Reed back in 2007. They’re horrific stories. And clearly, by the news reports, problems at the VA continue. And they must be addressed.
But man it’s tiring hearing all the outrage from people who seem far more interested in scoring political points than actually fixing problems. Otherwise they’d have cared about veterans, the deficit, and diplomats when their guy was president. And they didn’t. Not nearly as much as they do now.
And it’s not just vets. We Democrats tend to care about our troops even before they’re retired, in the same way we already cared about US diplomats back when they were still alive. We worry about silly things like funding diplomatic security, or getting our troops the body armor they need — at AMERICAblog, we actually raised over $5,000 to make sure some US troops in Iraq had the body armor they needed. A blog shouldn’t have had to have a virtual bake sale to equip our troops.
And let’s not forget the way the GOP viscerally loathed NYC until September 11, 2001, when suddenly, after 3,000 Americans were dead, the Republican party’s vocal disdain for New York went down the memory hole.
Of course, there are more ways than body armor to care about the troops. You can show you care by not sending them into a war based on a lie, for example.
You can show them that you respect their sacrifice, and that you will honor the extraordinary commitment they’ve shown to their country, by ensuring that if you send them to war, it won’t be for made-up reasons.
And then, once we’re at war, you won’t let political-ADD distract shift your gaze to yet another war while our men and women are still counting on you for the war they’re already (and still) fighting.
There are lots of important and necessary ways to show the troops we care. And if the Veterans Administration is still doing a bad job, heads should roll. But making the troops political pawns when it’s convenient, and ignoring them every time your party takes over the White House, isn’t one of them.