The White House, according to Chuck Todd, was “caught off guard” by the public outcry and criticism over the prisoner exchange that brought Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl home from Afghanistan.
Speaking on MSNBC, Todd said that the White House expected “some euphoria around this... that there would be a rally around the flag.” Clearly, they were wrong.
The million dollar question now, is this: Why were they surprised by the criticism?
Upon reflection, I first came up with two reasons why they were so taken aback.
Jani Bergdahl, the mother of freed US soldier Bowe Bergdahl, speaks to the press while her husband Bob Bergdahl and US President Barack Obama look on in the Rose Garden of the White House on May 31, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama and the Bergdahls spoke after the release of Bowe Bergdahl by the Taliban in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN
1. They truly didn't know about Bergdahl's alleged desertion, his anti-American writing, his desire to renounce his citizenship or really any of the details regarding him that have come out in the past several days.
Considering the length of time Bergdahl has been gone, the length of time they have been negotiating, the investigations done by the military, etc., this seems absolutely implausible, right? There is no way they didn't know the details surrounding his disappearance or at least understand the questions that circle it.
Yet this is the administration that has over and over again claimed they found out things through the media, just like you and John Q. Public did. Would it really be that far fetched to have them come out and claim that they didn't know about these things until they saw the news reports?
Quickly jettisoning that idea, for even this administration could not be that oblivious, I came to a far more plausible explanation.
2. They have no idea who regular Americans are.
The administration expected Americans to have a Pavlovian response to a soldier being returned, regardless of the soldier and regardless of the circumstances of the exchange. They truly thought we would all wrap ourselves in the flag, chant out USA and celebrate the return no matter what.
It all sounds quite naïve, but President Obama has demonstrated this narrow view of Americans before. Recall the time in San Francisco that he painted small town Americans as bitter, religious, xenophobic gun-clingers.
Or perhaps the time when he automatically declared that the Cambridge police “acted stupidly” even though he admittedly did not know the details of what had happened.
And who could forget that classic moment when he eloquently told us what the “typical white person” was like?
[sharequote align="center"]There is ample evidence that Obama has a very narrow and painfully shallow view of average America. [/sharequote]
There is ample evidence that this president has a very narrow and painfully shallow view of average America. Even his frivolous campaign slogans of “Hope and Change” and the even more painful “Forward!” show his lack of respect for the intelligence of the average Joe.
Unfortunately, neither of these ideas sat perfectly well with me. Then I reviewed his speech at West Point for the third time, clearly a self-violation of the Eighth Amendment, and it all made sense.
President Obama's speech at West Point was all about American leadership. While paying homage to the military's role in that leadership, the president highlighted diplomacy and negotiation, partnerships and international law.
AFP PHOTO / Jim WATSON
This is the direction he is taking the country, whether we like it or not. In order to focus on the new priorities of climate change, negotiation and the spreading of human rights, we must retire the old ways of Guantanamo Bay, non-negotiation with terrorists and peace through strength.
One of the criticisms of this exchange was that we were now negotiating with terrorists, a break in a long held cornerstone of American foreign policy. But this is absolutely in line with what he has done in the past.
He negotiated with Iran in secret for a year behind Israel's back regarding their nuclear program. This administration has had direct peace talks with the Taliban in the past and had even released five Gitmo prisoners last summer as a show of willingness. We've quietly run guns to Syrian rebels who are infested with radicals, the president waived part of a federal law to pave the way for officially arming them, we embraced the Muslim Brotherhood after the Arab Spring and are now negotiating with Hamas!
The fact that this administration negotiated with terrorists, while a shocking reality that many of us could never fathom or accept, is completely in line with their past actions.
The criticisms directed toward Bergdahl, his apparent desertion and possible collaboration with the Haqqani network who captured him are legitimate and will hopefully be investigated in due course. But the administration backing and even supporting a very seedy and possibly anti-American character are not without precedent.
This is the administration that recently nominated a lawyer who defended a cop killer to head the civil rights division. This is the administration who embraced Bill Ayers, Muslim Brotherhood leaders with ties to terrorism, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in the Black Panther voter intimidation case, and allowed a Chinese pianist to play a wildly anti-American tune at the White House.
Again, the support and possible encouragement of these types of people may be well outside the realm of possibility for you and I, but it is absolutely in line with their past actions.
Then we get to the matter of federal law being broken. This is perhaps the least surprising aspect of the prisoner exchange as this administration has shown a disregard and even disdain for federal law and the Constitution.
Between the Obamacare delays, the unilateral changes to immigration law, the “recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, the decision to not enforce or defend the Defense of Marriage Act, the violation of the War Powers Act in our involvement in Libya and 76 other examples courtesy of Ted Cruz, the administration has a solid track record of doing what they please regardless of the rules.
Nothing about this prisoner exchange or the details surrounding it should have been a shock to anyone. They were surprised by the reaction because to them, it was simply a continuation of things they had already done.
Break the law? Check. Negotiate with unsavory people and/or terrorists? Check. Act as if Congress is invisible? Check. Lie? Check. Sympathize with radicals and anti-American people? Check.
The administration wasn't surprised because they were oblivious. They weren't caught off guard because they have no clue who we are, though that is a valid point. Their confusion came from the sudden wave of backlash to things they had already done repeatedly in the past.
I can just imagine them sitting in the White House, amid a stack of upcoming executive orders, looking at each other in confusion and asking “why this time?”
For other articles and writings by Darrell, please visit the Milk Crate.
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