GUEST EDITORIAL: Demonizing the Bergdahls

2014-06-15T00:00:00Z GUEST EDITORIAL: Demonizing the BergdahlsBy the (Twin Falls, Idaho) Times-News Editorial Board nwitimes.com

The rush was on to blast the White House last week and congressional Republicans couldn’t care less who got hurt. But the fact that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and his parents, Bob and Jani, were the collateral damage in the GOP’s ruthless campaign to lampoon President Obama is vile.

For five years, lawmakers on the Hill blasted the Obama administration over the Hailey native’s continued Taliban confinement. It only took a few hours following his release last Saturday before Fox News talking heads had Bergdahl labeled a traitor or even a collaborator. Some literally called for blood.

Meanwhile, Republican powerhouses, such as Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, were lambasting the administration for swapping five Guantanamo Bay prisoners for Bergdahl. The five are the “Taliban Dream Team,” Graham said. McCain, only a few months before Bergdahl’s release, told CNN he would support a swap much like the one that got the only American prisoner of war out of captivity. His pivot, and the rest of his party’s, is about attacking the president. Bergdahls be damned. They’re expendable, says the national Republican machine.

To prove their point, as the New York Times reported last week, the GOP marched out anyone and everyone that ever saw Bergdahl in uniform who might eviscerate him. His “desertion” caused the deaths of a half-dozen military personnel who went looking for him, they said.

None of that is verified and, quite frankly, the real story is very different than what’s making the rounds with 24-hour pundits, Sen. Jim Risch said Wednesday following a confidential briefing between senators and the administration.

All these things we’re hearing about Bowe Bergdahl, all the hate, all the self-serving loathing, has nothing to do with him. He’s simply a dispensable weapon, a grenade to be tossed at the White House.

Supporting the troops is a nice mantra in Washington. But this past week has proved it’s all bunk.

Sens. Risch and Mike Crapo also came out last week against the swap. Crapo has at least remained consistent. He’s never liked the idea. But Risch has a long history of heckling Department of State staff and intelligence officials about freeing Bergdahl. Sure, Risch says he’s happy Bergdahl is out, but displeased with the method of his liberation.

Well, what other options were available, aside from just leaving him behind? Would a Navy SEAL raid, endangering the lives of more American personnel, have been better? That’s what’s not being addressed here. This whole thing has placed a price on Bowe Bergdahl’s head. “Sure, we wanted him out,” dissenters say. “But only if we got a bargain.“

Obama was in a classic lose-lose, it seems. Leave Bergdahl behind, get blasted. Get him out, get impaled.

Bergdahl’s parents, too, are nothing but fodder for the 24-hour noise machine. Bob Bergdahl’s beard is too long, apparently, and his Twitter too “ethnic.” The Bergdahls don’t pass the litmus test for true “Americanism,” say the screechers. Sure, they haven’t suffered enough. Let’s torture them a little more. Hailey can’t even hold a celebration for Bergdahl’s release. The enraged zealots were going to crash the party.

This isn’t happening in some far-flung place, where the players are faceless caricatures. This isn’t Benghazi. These are Americans, here. These are Idahoans.

Sickening.

We couldn’t be happier Bowe Bergdahl is alive and soon headed back to American soil. He might be a hero, he might be a guy who walked away from his unit. Time will tell. It doesn’t much matter to us right now. He’s endured enough, and so have his parents.

Welcome back, Bowe.

- (Twin Falls, Idaho) Times-News | June 8

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