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No one in Washington is happy about the unfolding scandal at the Department of Veteran Affairs, which most recently has been accused of putting patients on secret waiting lists, part of a broader pattern of scheduling snafus that has led, in extreme cases, to veteran deaths.
Many have called for the head of VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, but in the frenzied melee to determine who is the most outraged of all, one person stands head and shoulders above the rest: Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who took the odd step of picking a fight with veterans groups that have not demanded Shinseki's ouster. These groups, Burr proclaimed in an open letter, are "more interested in defending the status quo within VA, protecting their relationships within the agency, and securing their access to the secretary and his inner circle."
Treating veterans as villains was an unwise move, particularly for a scandal that touches Congress as much as the administration. "You clearly represent the worst of politics in this country," one veterans group wrote in response, noting that the Republican had supported the filibuster of a veterans bill earlier this year.