Matthews: Will Obama Action on VA Delays Take 'As Long As the Waiting Time to See a Doctor?'

Barbara Boland
By Barbara Boland | May 30, 2014 | 10:34 AM EDT

"What's he doing? Not more studying!" MSNBC host Chris Matthews asked Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) about the administration's response to the Veterans Affairs (VA) scandal on Hardball yesterday. The days when Obama gave Matthews a "thrill going up my leg" appear to be in the past.

Matthews questioned why President Obama appears more concerned about appearances, than about actually doing something to help the veterans.

Obama shouldn't be worried about the "PR of himself or the credentials of an administrator," Matthews said. "But, the person out there who served this country who's got a real problem - enough to go to a doctor - but, no doctor will see him... these people aren't even being looked at, let alone treated..."

"Sen. Brown, what is the answer here, besides waiting? [Waiting] for the President to do something. What do you want him to do?" Matthews asked.

"Well, I want him to understand what's wrong. I want him to look at some context here of ...of the job...." Brown stumbled.

"[Obama] got an IG report yesterday that said this is systemic," Matthews interrupts. "He said 'If it's systemic, I'm doing something.' What's he doing?"

"Not more study!" Matthews said, becoming indignant. "[Obama] wants to hear from Rob Nabors, his staff guy. He wants to hear Shinseki's own report. These are two more reports, he wants. How long is this going to go on? We have a waiting list to hear from the president now. We have a waiting time."

"What's the waiting time to hear from Obama now? Is it going to be as long as the waiting time to see a doctor?" Matthews asked Sen. Brown (D-Ohio.)

"No, of course it can't be," Brown said. "And replacing Shinseki or not... I mean, I don't have strong feelings whether he should step down, whether he should be fired, whether he should be kept, I have strong feelings on how you deal with the backlog and the waiting time."

"Eleven Democratic senators have strong feelings, sir, and they said so," Matthews responded.

Brown tried to deflect attention from Matthew's questions about the administration's handling of the V.A. and Shinseki to treatment of veterans that he's personally seen and repeated that the situation with the V.A. is "more complicated."

Matthews told Brown that, if his office got a call from a veteran who had been waiting four months to be seen by a doctor, "You'd fire off a letter to the V.A., and you'd be on that guy's tail right now. So you say, you don't know what you'd do. You know what you'd do if it was someone in your state."

"So why are you so deliberative here in the sense of you don't have a strong feeling?" Matthews shouted. "You'd have a damn strong feeling if it was one of your constituents that complained, wouldn't you?"

Protesting that he has strong feelings on what to do about the V.A., Brown deflected saying: "...As I said, I just don't have strong feelings on what you'd do with Shinseki."

"I get a feeling you'd have a feeling stronger than that, if he was working for you," Matthews said. "I tell you, if he was working for you in your Senate office, and this kind of calamity occurred under that person's watch, what would you do to them?"

The Ohio senator continued to respond weakly, despite Matthew's pressing him on the issue.

Chris Matthews' feelings here seem to represent a departure, as he has been an unapologetic supporter of the President. Matthews' feelings are shared by Montel Williams, who gave an impassioned interview Wednesday denouncing the administration's handling of the V.A., saying that it's equivalent to giving veterans the middle finger.