Tags: Barack Obama | George W. Bush | Polls | VA Scandal | George W. Bush | veterans affairs | VA

As Shinseki Resigns, Obama Falls Back on Old Strategy: Blame Bush

By Cathy Burke   |   Friday, 30 May 2014 07:07 PM

President Barack Obama says he's repeatedly vowed to take full responsibility for the Department of Veterans Affairs lapse-in-care scandal, but Friday he spread the blame around, declaring the problem "predates my presidency."

At a news conference where he announced the resignation of embattled VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, the president wove a timeline that led right back to the Bush administration.

"In terms of responsibility, as I've said before, this is my administration; I always take responsibility for whatever happens, and this is an area that I have a particular concern with," Obama said, according to a transcript of the remarks published by The Washington Post.

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Then he declared: "This predates my presidency."

"When I was in the Senate, I was on the Veterans Affairs Committee," he said. "I heard first-hand veterans who were not getting the kinds of services and benefits that they had earned. And I pledged that if I had the privilege of serving as commander in chief and president, that we would fix it. The VA is a big organization that has had problems for a very long time ...."

Obama's Senate tenure ran from January 2005 until November 2008, during the administration of President George W. Bush.

But it was just three months into his own new administration that the president began to point the finger of blame on Bush for "inherited" economic woes.

"By any measure," the president said on March 4, 2009, "my administration has inherited a fiscal disaster," The Washington Post reported, adding: "Obama had initially been content to leave partisan defense strategy to his proxies, but as the fiscal picture has continued to darken, he has appeared more willing to risk his image as a politician who is above petty partisanship to personally remind the public of Bush's legacy."

The strategy still works, a poll in February found.

A CNN survey showed most Americans still blame Bush for the bad economy more than five years after the "official" end of the recession, although that number is dropping.

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