Perhaps the real “scandal” in the Bowe Bergdahl affair was simply optics. The administration – including Hagel and POTUS – seemed to think a prisoner release would be unalloyed good news, without fully absorbing what servicemembers had learned about Bergdahl and the resentment his apparent AWOL and possibly deserter status had generated. Chuck Todd even reports that they expected euphoria. Allahpundit writes:
This seems to boil down to a fundamental misunderstanding by the White House of military culture. If soldiers had reacted the way O expected, celebrating the release of a POW, it really would have tamped down the criticism of Bergdahl. For obvious reasons: If the men who risk their lives defending America are willing to forgive him and welcome his return, who are the rest of us to question him? But that’s not how the men who served with him reacted; in fact, unless I missed it, not a single member of Bergdahl’s unit has spoken up in his defense. Obama gambled heavily that both veterans and the media would keep quiet. He lost.
But that doesn’t, of course, get to the core of the issue: should the president have seized a chance to rescue the service-member or not? When you posit the alternative – leaving the guy with apparently iffy health in enemy hands for ever – you can see the POW flags flying everywhere. So, yes, on this as on many issues, the president cannot win. I’m sure he’s used to that by now.
Today, I tried to absorb the news of a mass grave of 800 neglected children in a septic tank – victims of a brutal, evil Catholic legacy in Ireland and of the sexual teachings that have so come to distort Christianity. And we explored the actual costs of curtailing coal’s damage to the planet.
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See you in the morning.