The exit of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki in the wake of a scandal is probably appropriate, but won't resolve the real issue: that of an agency that's gotten too big, arrogant and self-interested to control.
The fact that Shinseki saw fit to resign as the VA failures piled up signals that someone is cut out of a different type of cloth from what's seen in Washington these days.
Resigning, after all, is the honorable thing to do. And it's a concept entirely foreign to either the power-loving political animals who populate the Obama White House, clinging to power no matter how many scandals they get caught in, or the venal VA bureaucrats whose obsessions with rewards led to their callous indifference to American veterans who died waiting for care.
Shinseki's resignation technically represents a failure to lead and was likely necessary, given that a new IBD/TIPP poll indicates a sharp fall in public confidence, with 54% of the public believing he should resign, compared to 30% who said he should remain.
But it's no disgraceful exit given that the people he was dealing with had absolutely no code of honor, just the self-interested ways of the bureaucrat in a government that has grown too large and unaccountable for any proper restraint.
"I can't explain the lack of integrity among some of the leaders of our health care facilities," Shinseki stated at his resignation. "This is something I rarely encountered during 38 years in uniform. And so I will not defend it because it is indefensible."
And that points to the real problem being not personnel, or a matter of one man, but of a big-government system that fails in its mission on the critical matter of life or death, even as it praises itself.
Who's among the foremost proponents of big government? None other than President Obama, who during his 2008 campaign stump speech vowed to fix the problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
"We need to make sure folks get the care they need without long waiting lists and long drives," he said as early as February 2008.
In fact, his theme of "we're going to cut those backlogs" and "we're going to keep at this until we meet our commitment to cut those backlogs, slash those wait times, and deliver your benefits sooner" has been present every year he's been in office. Yet he claims that as the problems exploded across the media, he first learned about them from reading the newspapers.
"In those six years, what has the president done about it? Did he meet with Secretary Shinseki regularly and adequately review the department's performance?" asked House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in an op-ed published in Politico.
No, the only thing he's done is agree to Shinseki's resignation, and then accept "full responsibility" before blaming the problem on President Bush.
This is big government in action, running health care. It's a sorry specter of absentee leadership, with giant spans of incompetence and the weasel-like industriousness of bureaucrats finding morally questionable ways to feather their nests.
Ahead of his resignation, Shinseki indicated that he was in the process of rectifying the situation, not just by firing corrupt bureaucrats, but by issuing vouchers for private care to the 1,700 veterans who had been kept off waiting lists and denied care.
That's the ultimate solution that this VA scandal should be moving toward — vouchers for veterans at private-care facilities that answer to consumer needs and market forces, and must be accountable or else go out of business.
Right now, there's not a hint of such a solution in this meltdown. There is a lot of political damage control, though.
But America's fighting men and women need more. They need care, and they won't get it so long as the Obama administration treats the issue as the fault of a single individual and hopes to move on. The answer is to replace the system with a non-big government arrangement.