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VA Secretary To Vets: Suck It Up And Deal

In which I am once again proved fucking right.  Not an everyday occurrence by any means, but far too frequent for this pessimist’s taste.

Me, 1/18/08:

Republicans love to rage about how we progressives don’t support the troops, yet the Bush administration sends troops to Iraq with inadequate armor or leave time, covers it up when they get raped and/or killed under suspicious circumstances, subjects wounded troops to Civil War conditions, and screws veterans again and again. [To which I should have added, "and doesn’t believe that their service entitles them to a college education unless they re-enlist over and over again."]

VA Secretary Jim Peake, 5/26/08:

On the topic of [post-traumatic stress disorder], Peake questioned if the condition is being overdiagnosed, considering the mental health services available to those in the armed forces.

"I worry about labeling all these kids coming back," he said. "Just because someone might need a little counseling when they get back, doesn’t mean they need the PTSD label their whole lives."

Yeah, I guess being tagged with that PTSD stigma would be pretty rough – almost as rough as, say, having actual PTSD go untreated.  But Peake wasn’t done making an ass of himself, nooo.

VA Secretary Jim Peake, 5/27/08:

VA secretary Peake suggested some of the concern about post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury has been overblown.

Many of the brain injuries are serious but some of them are akin to what anyone who played football in their youth might have suffered, Peake told Guinn.

Awesome.  Remember, this isn’t just some random Republican yahoo sticking his foot in his mouth on consecutive days – this is the head of the by-God Veteran’s Administration advocating the rub-dirt-on-it-and-take-a-lap philosophy for treating serious combat injuries.

How long can the Republican Party sustain this level of cognitive dissonance?  How long before voters start noticing that all of Dubya and the GOP’s support-our-brave-troops rhetoric thinly veils a fuck-the-troops worldview?  And how much of an effort will the Democrats make to expose that hypocrisy and claim their rightful mantle as the Pro-Troops Party?

I think the Republicans are very very vulnerable on this, and it’s one of those iconic, visceral flag/Mom/apple pie issues that they’ve traditionally owned.  If the Democrats hammer it and successfully paint them as the anti-troop party who view soldiers as nothing more than expendable IED fodder, McCain and the GOP will be in a world of deep dark hurt come November.

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