Skip to main content

Two tragedies, two reactions: So what took Obama so long?

By Crystal Wright
updated 10:56 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Crystal Wright wonders why Obama's VA reaction wasn't as swift as his Trayvon comments
  • Obama waited more than a month to speak on VA allegations
  • In comparison, he commented a week after the Trayvon Martin verdict
  • Wright: Our veterans deserve the same attention to their deaths as Obama gave Martin

Editor's note: Crystal Wright is a conservative writer who runs the blog ConservativeBlackChick.com. She also is a principal at the Baker Wright Group, a communications and public relations firm. You can follow her on Twitter @GOPBlackChick. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) -- Not even a week after the ruling in the Trayvon Martin trial, President Barack Obama couldn't wait to stand before the White House press corps and "speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention," as he said last July.

Yet it took Obama more than a month to address the crisis where 40 veterans allegedly died while waiting months for treatment at a Phoenix Veterans Administration hospital.

Congress has held hearings on the grave matter since April and called Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki among other witnesses to testify. But Obama just got around to holding a press conference Wednesday on the topic.

"So when I heard allegations of misconduct -- any misconduct, whether it's allegations of VA staff covering up long wait times or cooking the books -- I will not stand for it, not as commander in chief, but also not as an American," Obama declared.

Crystal Wright
Crystal Wright

If Obama is as outraged and "mad as hell" as he professes, why did it take him over a month to say anything substantive about vets dying because of months waiting for care? Prior to his long overdue press conference about the VA controversy, Obama only mentioned what has now become another White House scandal in a response to a question from a reporter on April 28 during his Asia trip.

During his press conference, Obama said he wasn't going to jump to any conclusions or call for any resignations until "the investigators do their job and get to the bottom of what happened" at the VA. He added, "we have to find out, first of all, what exactly happened."

In contrast, Obama couldn't wait to jump to conclusions and comment on the shooting of the black teen Martin by George Zimmerman before any investigation or trial happened. Obama made extensive comments on the shooting in March 2012 in the Rose Garden.

"You know, if I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon. All of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness it deserves," he said.

Well we certainly didn't hear the president say, if he had served in the military, "I could have been one of those veterans who died." Apparently, veterans, who put their lives at risk defending our country then died at the hands of incompetent VA employees aren't worthy of the same attention and "seriousness" as Trayvon Martin?

Even more indicative of the Obama White House's misplaced priorities is the White House issued a statement from the president on the day of the Tryavon Martin trial verdict last July. No White House statement was issued about the VA allegations.

Should the head of the VA lose his job?
Rep. Miller on holding the VA accountable
VA wait lists include returning troops

But clearly a statement on the Martin trial wasn't enough. A few days later, Obama held a press conference about the verdict. "I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit," Obama noted.

Martin's death, though tragic, had nothing to do with national security or government malfeasance and didn't warrant attention from the president of the United States. But Obama felt it was very important to comment on the death of a young black man shot by a "white Hispanic" to appease race hucksters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson who helped elect him.

Stammering throughout his VA press conference Wednesday, Obama told reporters "responsibility for things always rests ultimately with me, as the President and commander in chief."

At the same time Obama claims he didn't know how big the problems were with the VA. How can a president be responsible for problems occurring at agencies if he's not aware of the problems?

This sounds like the all-too-familiar refrain the White House uses. It didn't know about the IRS scandal or the Department of Health and Human Services' disastrous rollout of Obamacare.

Again, Obama promised, "there is going to be accountability." "Listen, if somebody has mismanaged or engaged in misconduct, not only do I not want them getting bonuses, I want them punished," he said from the White House briefing room.

Hopefully this time, the President means what he says because in past scandals he has held no one accountable. IRS division director Lois Lerner and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius both were allowed to resign without accountability. Shinseki eventually will do the same.

Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, at minimum our veterans deserve the same attention to their deaths as Obama gave Trayvon.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:10 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
If Obama thinks pushing out Hagel will be seen as the housecleaning many have eyed for his national security process, he'll be disappointed, says David Rothkopf.
updated 8:11 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
The decision by the St. Louis County prosecuting attorney to announce the Ferguson grand jury decision at night was dangerous, says Jeff Toobin.
updated 3:57 AM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
China's influence in Latin America is nothing new. Beijing has a voracious appetite for natural resources and deep pockets, says Frida Ghitis.
updated 4:51 PM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in the capital Tehran on June 14, 2014.
The decision to extend the deadline for talks over Iran's nuclear program doesn't change Tehran's dubious history on the issue, writes Michael Rubin.
updated 2:25 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Maria Cardona says Republicans should appreciate President Obama's executive action on immigration.
updated 7:44 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Van Jones says the Hunger Games is a more sweeping critique of wealth inequality than Elizabeth Warren's speech.
updated 6:29 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
obama immigration
David Gergen: It's deeply troubling to grant legal safe haven to unauthorized immigrants by executive order.
updated 8:34 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Charles Kaiser recalls a four-hour lunch that offered insight into the famed director's genius.
updated 3:12 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
The plan by President Obama to provide legal status to millions of undocumented adults living in the U.S. leaves Republicans in a political quandary.
updated 10:13 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
Despite criticism from those on the right, Obama's expected immigration plans won't make much difference to deportation numbers, says Ruben Navarette.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
As new information and accusers against Bill Cosby are brought to light, we are reminded of an unshakable feature of American life: rape culture.
updated 5:56 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
When black people protest against police violence in Ferguson, Missouri, they're thought of as a "mob."
updated 3:11 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Lost in much of the coverage of ISIS brutality is how successful the group has been at attracting other groups, says Peter Bergen.
updated 8:45 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Do recent developments mean that full legalization of pot is inevitable? Not necessarily, but one would hope so, says Jeffrey Miron.
updated 8:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
We don't know what Bill Cosby did or did not do, but these allegations should not be easily dismissed, says Leslie Morgan Steiner.
updated 10:19 AM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Does Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas have the influence to bring stability to Jerusalem?
updated 12:59 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
Even though there are far fewer people being stopped, does continued use of "broken windows" strategy mean minorities are still the target of undue police enforcement?
updated 9:58 PM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
The truth is, we ran away from the best progressive persuasion voice in our times because the ghost of our country's original sin still haunts us, writes Cornell Belcher.
updated 4:41 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Children living in the Syrian city of Aleppo watch the sky. Not for signs of winter's approach, although the cold winds are already blowing, but for barrel bombs.
updated 8:21 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
We're stuck in a kind of Middle East Bermuda Triangle where messy outcomes are more likely than neat solutions, says Aaron David Miller.
updated 7:16 AM EST, Mon November 17, 2014
In the midst of the fight against Islamist rebels seeking to turn the clock back, a Kurdish region in Syria has approved a law ordering equality for women. Take that, ISIS!
updated 11:07 PM EST, Sun November 16, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says President Obama would be justified in acting on his own to limit deportations
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT