Matthews Rips Obama Admin, Sherrod Brown Over VA Scandal

'What's the waiting time to hear from Obama? Is it going to be as long as the waiting time to see a doctor?'

• May 29, 2014 8:05 pm


MSNBC host Chris Matthews went to town on the Obama administration and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio) over the lackadaisical response to the V.A. scandal Thursday on Hardball.

Matthews blasted President Obama for focusing on the political implications of Secretary of the V.A. Eric Shinseki's potential departure at the expense of veterans who need care.

"[Obama] got an IG report yesterday that said that it's systemic. He said if it's systemic, I'm doing something. What's he doing? Not more studying. He says he wants to hear from Rob Nabors his staff guy. He wants to hear Shinseki's own report. These are two more reports. 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? Is it going to be as long as the waiting time to see a doctor?" Matthews asked Sen. Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio).

"No, of course it can't be," Brown said. "I don't have strong feelings whether [Shinseki] should step down, whether he should be fired, whether he should be kept."

"11 Democratic senators have strong feelings, sir, and they said so," Matthews shot back.

Brown deflected, telling the MSNBC host he is more passionate about dealing with the overall V.A. backlog.

Undeterred, Matthews put the question to Brown in personal terms. The Hardball host asked Brown if he would be outraged if he received a letter from one of his constituents who had been waiting four months to see a doctor at the V.A.

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

Brown again tried not to answer the question, reiterating he does not have "strong feelings" on whether Skinseki should resign.

"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 tepidly replied he would sit down and try to ascertain what happened, then potentially ask his hypothetical staff member to resign.