Outrage du Jour: I’m on board!

I’m still not all that passionate about the idea President Obama broke the law.  I mean, maybe he did.  So what…  It’s not a big deal in this age of executive branch power.

The proper critique as I see it is:  this 5 for 1 deal has been acceptable to the Taliban for a while.  So it was basically a foreign affairs card for the Obama Administration to play in the course of constructive engagement with the Taliban, but it was always to be subject to the hurdle of vetting and pushback from various stakeholders.  …Congress, the intelligence people, the military….

But the VA thing came up, so the White House cut the institutional stakeholders out of the loop and went ahead on a moment’s notice.  This effort was made to create out of thin air a PR coup that would neutralize the VA story.    They set out on a victory lap that played on various vet / military jingoisms.  They painted the younger Bergdahl as a returning hero and trotted out the specious elder Bergdahl as a sympathetic character.

This…. has not gone well…..

They panicked and got it wrong.  Not that they had a chance to get it right, but they did have an opportunity to chill and do nothing.


17 thoughts on “Outrage du Jour: I’m on board!

  1. pm1956

    I think that the GOP is going to end up with egg on its face, again, on this issue.


    bottom line, they look like a bunch of crazy, loony jerks. Obama is going to play this as a compassion piece, and those who object are going to look like vindictive assholes. You never abandon one of your own to die in enemy hands. Where is the loyalty? (and, no, what makes loyalty loyalty is that it is unqualified). Not often that Obama and the democrats get offered such an issue on a golden platter.

    I know that most conservatives will go ape-shit over this–which is great, politically, for the Democrats. The GOP base is horribly tone deaf on issues such as this and immigration and gay marriage. They think that they are in the majority, and are so confident of it that they overplay their hand. This is the danger that the Fox echo chamber poses for conservatives.

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      I am very mindful to understand conservatives do not have the support they think they do…. But I don’t think they are tone deaf on this. Not like the Administration.

      1. pm1956

        Because it is a compassion piece–it is about our commitment to our POW’s. and that commitment is not conditional (on their political party, their bravery, their religion, the color of their skin, etc.)

  2. pm1956

    As usual, Andrew Sullivan hits the nail on the head inhis analysis of this situation:

    this latest outrage du jour is all about the right trying to blame Obama for the failure to win in Iraq and Afghanistan. They don’t recognize that these wars were unwinnable, in that what we were trying to accomplish (make these countries into democratic versions of the US and purge them of Islamic tendencies) was never in the realm of possibility.

    Who lost china? Who lost Vietnam? Who lost Iraq? Who lost Afghanistan?

    Who said any of these were ever ours to lose?

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      Good article. I certainly think its true to a point but is not as important as the point Sullivan makes when he says ‘There is the legitimate concern that this was a bad deal, of course.’

      1. pm1956

        I think that the Economist article below strongly explains why this was a good deal–beacuse we would not be able to hold those Taliban commanders after we exit Afghanistan, so why not get something for them while we can (as opposed to being forced to release them eventually).

        That was always the problem with GITMO–it was never thought out long term what we would do with those prisoners.

      2. pm1956

        “Once combat operations cease in Afghanistan, as a matter of international law America will lose its authority to hold Taliban prisoners at Guantánamo, says John Bellinger, a national-security lawyer in the Bush administration. That probably goes for the commanders swapped for Mr Bergdahl, who might have walked soon anyway: so why not trade them now?”

        from the Economist article, below

        We can’t just hold people indefinitely. We have to either bring them to trial (and under what set of laws?) or release them. Neither US nor international law allows us to do anything else

    1. Erik Petersen Post author

      It is a good article.

      I agree with Krauthammer on the merits. It’s arguably an OK to Good thing to have done, and was within the President’s power to do it.

      I chafe (again) at this idea that there are no legitimate substantive criticisms to be made. There certainly are, as various Democrats have pointed out. Also, I’m not big believer when people try to make coincidence or irony into a conspiracy, but the timing of this was obviously linked to the VA scandal. Which suggests the entire thing was a PR stunt rather than the culmination of serious policy contemplation and execution.

      Re the controversy about whether or not 6 soldiers have died looking for Bergdahl, I’d note that the DoD lied about Lynch, lied about Tillman…. But we’re to be instructed by the Democrats that DoD will not lie about this. And that the New York Times has stopped being played for a sucker since the Obama has been running the war(s). That’s hooey.

  3. pm1956

    I think that it is reasonable to assume that the Taliban had as much to do with the timing as Obama…that is not to say that there was not some form of opportunism present (there always is), but if you want to assume a “conspiracy” (or that this was planned to take attention from the VA thing), you also have to assume that Obama had control of the timing….and he did not.

    Opportunistic, yes, Anything more than that, no. Don’t make Obama out to be a superman. He is very good at what he does, but he also puts his pants on one leg at a time.

  4. pm1956

    As for 6 soldiers dying…the whole dispute is kind of silly. They are in a combat zone, and they are supposed to be going out on regular patrols. That is plenty dangerous. Were they killed exclusively because they were looking for someone? Would they have been killed otherwise? How is looking for a lost soldier any different from trying to engage and kill the enemy? (what they presumably would have been doing anyway). Does a search activity unconsionably raise the risks for them? If so, should we never search for MIA’s/POW’s?

    I am not certain that there is any way to absolutely know this one way or another, and it seems to me that those who are quibbling about this really have another agenda in mind.


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