During Rachel Maddow's live but actually not interview with Hillary Clinton on Friday night, Maddow asked Clinton if she had any "new ideas" on improving health care for veterans provided by the notoriously schlerotic Veterans Affairs department.
Considering that Maddow put this to a paleo-Dem whose politics have remained static since her undergrad days at Wellesley, Clinton's answer to Maddow's query was nearly certain to amuse.
Maddow framed the question with a surprisingly blunt assessment of the VA and actually envisioned herself as a GOP campaign operative using it with singular intent to bludgeon President Obama --
MADDOW: One policy question that I think the Republicans are raising, they're talking about amongst themselves, hasn't really burst into a general election conversation yet but I am genuinely shocked by it, which is that it's becoming sort of fashionable in Republican circles to talk about abolishing the VA, privatizing the VA, getting rid of it, throwing veterans onto the mercies of the for-profit health care system.
The reason they are able to propose something that radical is because the problems at the VA seem so intractable. If I had been running a Republican campaign against President Obama last year, I would have run it entirely on the VA, a bureaucracy, a bloated big-government program that can't be fixed and let's do right by our veterans.
CLINTON (nodding sagely): Hmm-mm.
MADDOW: Uhm, do you, do you have any new ideas for trying to fix it? You can't find a person in politics who doesn't say we shouldn't do right by our veterans. But for some reason this can't get fixed fast enough.
CLINTON (after a pause): Yeah, and I don't understand that. You know, I don't understand why we have such a problem because there have been a number of surveys of veterans and, overall, veterans who do get treated are satisfied with their treatment.
While those who perish from neglect and inadequate care are rendered incapable of filling out surveys, thus skewing the numbers --
MADDOW: Much more so than people in the regular system.
CLINTON: That's exactly right. Now, nobody would believe that from the coverage that you see and the constant berating of the VA that comes from the Republicans, in part in pursuit of this ideological agenda that they have.
MADDOW: But in part because there has been real scandal.
CLINTON: There has been but it's not been as widespread as it has been made out to be. Now, I do think that some of the reforms that were adopted last year should be given a chance to work. If there a waiting period that is just unacceptable, you should be able in a sense get the opportunity to go out and have a private physician take care of you but at the cost to the VA.
Also known as -- privatization. Doesn't Clinton care about our vets?! Here comes her "new ideas," thanks for your patience --
CLINTON: But I think it goes deeper than that because if you look at not only VA health care but the backlog on disability determinations, there's something not working within the bureaucracy and I have said I would like to literally appoint a SWAT team, I mean, bring in people and just tackle the disability, have an ongoing review of the care that is being given, do more to make sure that every VA hospital is delivering care to the highest standard of the community because unfortunately some are doing a lot better job than others are.
Got that? Clinton would "literally" -- as opposed to figuratively? -- appoint a "SWAT team," or teams more likely, who would swoop down and cut a quick swath through that vast disability backlog. The "literally" cited by Clinton presumably refers to her appointment of the team and not to the team itself, which one assumes would not be an actual, bulked-up, tattoo-festooned SWAT squadron armed with .... ewwww .... heavy weaponry. These aren't cops or soldiers she's talking about -- they'd be iPad-wielding administrators, aka, bureaucrats.
"There's something not working within the bureaucracy," Clinton observes. Her proposal -- hire more bureaucrats! Just out of curiosity, would the SWAT team members tackling the backlog of disability claims also conduct the "ongoing review" of care, or would these be separate bureaucrats? And regardless of that, would not more bureaucrats be needed to determine if the SWAT team members and ongoing care specialists were meeting the exceedingly high standards set by the next President Clinton?
Who knows, maybe Clinton's unintentionally revealing "SWAT team" proposal might help our veterans and not leave them stranded. Too bad Clinton didn't push this for our diplomats when she was secretary of state.