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Rich Lowry: The 'swift-boating' of Bowe Bergdahl

Posted: June 8, 2014 - 3:52pm

As the Bowe Bergdahl prisoner swap has curdled from presumed triumph to public-relations nightmare, the White House and its defenders have cast about for excuses why the administration’s negotiating brilliance has gone unappreciated.

White House staffers told NBC’s Chuck Todd that they were taken aback at the “swift-boating” of Bergdahl by his former comrades. That’s a reference to the attacks on John Kerry when he was the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee by the troops he served with in Vietnam.

Rightly understood, swift-boating shouldn’t be a pejorative — it’s what happens when men in uniform feel betrayed by a comrade and tell the public what they believe to be the truth about his service. But for Democrats and the media, swift-boating is about the most heinous thing that can happen to someone.

Bowe Bergdahl thus joins Kerry as a victim of a partisan smear campaign — except, unlike the secretary of state, Bergdahl doesn’t have any prestigious medals to throw away (or pretend to throw away) at an anti-war protest.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, tweeted, “Really sad to watch Obama haters attack this kid who CHOSE to fight to protect the rest of us, just to score political points.”

On CNN, Van Jones said that “the airwaves are being filled mysteriously with former solders just trashing the guy.” Ah, but it’s not so mysterious, after all. “It turns out,” Jones intoned, “that there are Republican operatives who are working behind the scenes to get some of those guys on television. This is an orchestrated smear campaign.”

He was alluding to former Republican official Richard Grenell putting a few of the troops together with journalists. Evidently, these guys should have waited until former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs offered to hook them up, and otherwise kept to themselves their silly stories about what they went through in Afghanistan after Bergdahl’s disappearance.

More than half a dozen of Bergdahl’s former comrades have said he deliberately walked off his base in 2009 after becoming disillusioned with the war, and that soldiers were killed looking for him.

Let’s stipulate that — given the fog of war — these accounts might exaggerate the harm done by Bergdahl’s disappearance. But there is no doubt that they are sincere, and the anger is real. What are the odds that Bergdahl happened to get assigned to a platoon full of highly politicized soldiers who waited years for the opportunity to use the circumstances of his capture as a cudgel against President Barack Obama?

As the pseudonymous blogger Allahpundit points out, if there are comrades who will vouch for Bergdahl, or were witnesses to him being snatched while lagging behind on patrol (as Bergdahl maintained in a video after his capture), we would presumably have heard from them by now.

The conspiracy against Bergdahl is so vast that it encompasses Afghan villagers. Some of them told The Washington Post that they saw Bergdahl after he walked away from his base, heading for Taliban strongholds and ignoring their warnings that he was in danger.

None of this necessarily means that the trade for Bergdahl was wrong, or that we shouldn’t have wanted him back. But it makes the deal harder to defend, which is why the initial White House spin about Bergdahl was so positive — until the facts got in the way. He went from serving with “honor and distinction,” per National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s initial assurances on the Sunday shows, to “innocent until proven guilty,” per Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey’s comment about a potential court-martial, in the space of about three days.

The top Taliban officials released from Guantanamo Bay to get Bergdahl back were last seen hugging and kissing supporters in Qatar, where they are supposed to be watched for a year. Even the president admits that they could return to the fight. Huffy complaints about swift-boating and partisanship aren’t going to put the questions about this deal to rest.

Rich Lowry can be reached via e-mail:

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jford 06/09/14 - 09:42 am
Rich Lowry versus reality

Rich Lowry was one of the main supporters of the lies that led to the invasion of Iraq. His publication serves as a record of multitudes of lies and misinformation published over the years.

Even after the lies were exposed, his publication never printed any retractions. His publication simply has no ethics whatsoever.

The Clarion should provide more responsible content to it's readers, copying and pasting articles from the National Review shows the Clarion holds little regard for journalistic ethics themselves.

leewaytooo 06/09/14 - 02:01 pm
the paper is a palin loving

the paper is a palin loving rag.... what do you expect...

actual unbiased editorials???

the censor has ONLY palin images on its photo page..

and has no problems with allowing the slamming of

democrats.... just don't start slamming [filtered word]....

stuff happens..

Norseman 06/09/14 - 05:18 pm
It is a shame that the paper

It is a shame that the paper feels it is necessary to post this guys drivel. So much for good factual info.

cheapersmokes 06/11/14 - 07:14 am
I like it!

I am sorry that he doesn't write columns that blend into your rose colored glasses vision of the world! Could it be that since he was stationed at an Alaskan base that you're in such support of his treasonous actions? The waste majority of those taken prisoner by the Taliban end up hanging from a lamp pole minus their head. Why was he kept alive and well for 5 years? Ya think it was because his father learned their language and grew a beard? We traded five General level Commanders for one lousy private....only Obama would consider that a good deal and he will most likely be impeached over it also.

jford 06/11/14 - 08:18 am
You might want to wait for any possible investigation.

The Pentagon should do any investigating of wrongdoing, you aren't qualified, let alone are you adequately informed of the actual realities.

On top of that, your premature claim of treason is unAmerican, it ignores the concept of innocence until proven guilty. You should be ashamed for setting a bad example.

The military doesn't need your input, they have the proper authority to investigate and something tells me they won't be consulting with you.

You should be ashamed for attempting to smear his family.

And no, the president isn't going to be impeached for bringing a member of the military home.

jlmh 06/15/14 - 12:15 am
What "reality" and "good factual info" is lacking?

What's wrong with the Clarion's choice to publish this? They also published one praising Obama's decision on the matter, here:

Or is it just irresponsible for them to include views that aren't yours?

Actually, this opinion piece is factual and gets straight to the point. Feel free to point out factual errors, but so far the negative comments are just whining because someone insulted their favorite politician. Doesn't sound like bad journalism to me.

(Actually the link I posted is far more ridiculous, dismissing all Republican dissent as "crying wolf" - conveniently failing to give any examples. Really? Is it crying wolf if it really happened? Because I can't think what scandal he might be referring to that didn't actually happen. Then of course, that could because he didn't cite any ...maybe because there weren't any. What a way to slap catch phrases on an opponent in hopes that it sticks with readers.)

jford 06/15/14 - 08:28 am
Factual errors.

You want factual error? Swift boating isn't what Lowry claims it is. Lowry's premise, which he invented and is not factual, isn't based on reality. If your very premise or basis for your opinion is not based on fact, your opinion isn't credible.

That's Lowry in a nutshell, not credible.

Lowry has a long history of printing lies, Lowry has a history of publishing his 'facts' which were later proven not to be factual at all.

It's not a problem if someone has an opinion, the problem comes when people base opinions on imaginary or false tenets.

Serial lying and repeatedly being caught simply making stuff up doesn't add up to responsible journalism. Rich Lowry shouldn't be given a platform, there are far more credible editorials written by actual journalists for the Clarion to choose from, as it is, Lowry is copied and pasted two and three times a week here and that is irresponsible and indefensible of the Clarion.

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