I have been appalled by the demonization of Bowe Bergdahl, which began hours after his release culminated by the “exchange of five hard-core Taliban leaders,” earlier this week.
Most notable in the right wing uproar over the prisoner of war exchange is the flip flop of Senator John McCain who told CNN four months ago, “I would support… Obviously I’d have to know the details, but I would support ways of bringing him home and if exchange was one of them I think that would be something I think we should seriously consider.”
No sooner had the exchange been made when Senator McCain, “as he has so often in the past, switched positions for maximum political advantage. “I would not have made this deal,” he said a few days ago. Suddenly the prisoner exchange is “troubling” and “poses a great threat” to service members. Hearings must be held, he said, and sharp questions asked.”
The NY Times Editorial Board notes:
This hypocrisy now pervades the Republican Party and the conservative movement, and has even infected several fearful Democrats. When they could use Sergeant Bergdahl’s captivity as a cudgel against the administration, they eagerly did so, loudly and in great numbers. And the moment they could use his release to make President Obama look weak on terrorism or simply incompetent, they reversed direction without a moment’s hesitation to jump aboard the new bandwagon.
The last few days have made clearer than ever that there is no action the Obama administration can take — not even the release of a possibly troubled American soldier from captivity — that cannot be used for political purposes by his opponents.
Bergdahl has been judged before even reaching American soil, and this judgment is as the NY Times points out purely political fodder used by the right wing against the President. None of these facts seem to weigh into their demonization of Bergdahl:
Thousands of soldiers desert during every war, including 50,000 American soldiers during World War II. As many as 4,000 a year were absent without leave for extended periods during the Iraq war. They leave for a variety of reasons, including psychological trauma, but whatever their mental state, it is the military’s duty to get them back if they are taken prisoner. That’s what the Obama administration did in this case, and there was a particular sense of urgency because a video showed that Sergeant Bergdahl’s life might be in danger.
My sentiments on this appalling show of crass political opportunism match those of the NY Times Editorial Board, “But the critics seeking political advantage don’t care about the life or mental state of a particular soldier, or of a principle of loyalty that should provide comfort to any soldier in danger of capture. They live only for the attack.”
My heart aches for Bergdahl’s family and friends who can not even celebrate his release from captivity with an event in his home town when he returns to American soil. So vociferous and vicious have the attacks been that the event that was to be scheduled has been cancelled due to the right wing uproar.