MSNBC host Rachel Maddow argued on Wednesday that the problems currently surrounding the country's Veterans Affairs (VA) department predated both President Barack Obama and department Secretary Eric Shinseki's administrations, and were fueled in part by Republican budget cuts and inaction.
"There is a modern American dysmorphia when it comes to veterans," she said. "We see things that aren't really there. We tell ourselves that we're doing things that we're not really doing. We have a poetry in this country about our love and respect for veterans that is not matched by the prose of how veterans are actually treated."
Maddow noted that in March 2003 -- the same month the U.S. began its second war against Iraq -- the GOP-led House of Representatives approved a budget cutting $14 billion from the VA's budget. Two years later, Anthony Principi, who was appointed by then-President George W. Bush, released a statement saying the department did not "require additional resources" despite the escalating cost of that conflict.
Lawmakers later had to approve an emergency $1.5 billion budget influx following reports that local VA facilities were instituting hiring freezes and lacking the ability to make necessary purchases.
Yet it's Republicans who are now engaging in a coordinated effort, she said, to oust Shinseki amid an investigation into alleged record-keeping malfeasance in VA clinics in 26 cities.
"Not even the people who are clamoring for him to go -- not even the people who are clamoring for the president to fire General Shinzeki -- say they believe that that would solve the problem at the VA," Maddow said. "I mean, whether or not you want Eric Shinzeki to keep his job, what would it take to fix the problem?"
Watch Maddow's commentary, as aired on Wednesday, below.