In the lead item to his “Best of the Web” column Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto nails the Department of Veterans Affairs for an exquisitely dumb tweet as well as an Obama administration media apologist. Both are presented here without embellishment.
Somehow whoever administers the department’s official Twitter account found time yesterday morning to post this comment: “Our ocean is under threat. Join people all over the world and make a difference. #OurOcean2014 http://thndr.it/1tP7rrQ.”
The link goes to a State Department page titled “Our Ocean,” which helpfully explains: “Whether you live on the coast or hours from the closest beach, we all depend on the ocean. The ocean is critical to maintaining life on Earth, contributing to our livelihoods and our well-being. It regulates our climate and weather . . .”
At that point, we stopped reading. (Haven’t they heard the EPA is now regulating our climate and weather?) So we have no opinion on the State Department’s ocean effort, apart from a sense that America’s diplomats may have a few more-urgent matters they should be dealing with.
But why is the VA dealing with this at all? What does the ocean have to do with veterans, other than that some of them served there as sailors and Marines?
Danielle Weiner-Bronner of TheWire.com expresses some puzzlement at the “vehement response” that the “seemingly innocuous tweet” provoked. “The VA has tweeted off topic before, without raising the ire of its followers,” she writes, reproducing a tweet from last week: “Find out how to help prevent your children from being caught in an #identitytheft scheme: 1.usa.gov/1sNE08X.” Except that the link there goes to a page for the VA’s own Identity Safety Service.
Weiner-Bronner goes out on a limb and speculates that “the vehement response could be a sign that people are, legitimately, still extremely upset by the VA’s fatal negligence. . . . To be fair, the VA probably should have known the tweet would strike a nerve. But it’s hard not to link the venomous reaction to President Barack Obama’s recent verbal slam of climate change deniers.”
It doesn’t seem to occur to Weiner-Bronner that the VA’s inattention to its actual mission and its attention to propagandizing for unrelated Obama administration efforts are two sides of the same coin. The VA tweet is a small matter, but it’s symbolic of this administration’s obsession with politics and disdain for governmental administration.