It used to be that the release of an American POW was met with cheers and tickertape a parade.
It used to be that an individual who was alleged to have committed a crime was presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
No more! Not in the toxic partisan world we live in.
I have come to expect that the president’s opponents will use every opportunity to cast anything he does in an unfavorable light. So I expected that there would be some political blowback when it was announced that the president had exchanged five high level Taliban prisoners held in Guantanamo for one US soldier. I expected the rancor over his decision would intensify when it was reported that Bergdahl had disparaged the country and its mission before leaving his post. And I knew that the level of vitriol would reach and even higher decibel when we learned that efforts to find and rescue Bergdahl resulted in the deaths of six American soldiers. But never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the political right would sink to the level of incivility that they have demonstrated over the past few days.
The avalanche of personal attacks that Republicans have rained down on Bergdahl and his family goes way beyond the pale. They have labeled Bergdahl a coward, a traitor a deserter and an enemy sympathizer. They have characterized his parents as extremist, backward, radical and unclean. Bergdahl’s father had the audacity to grow a beard in support of his son’s service in Afghanistan. FOXNEWS’ Bill O’Reilly said he “looks like a Muslim.” The mindless life forms that feed at O’ Reilly’s trough gladly carried his tune. Republican strategists set up media interviews with members of Bergdahl’s unit willing to cast him in an unflattering light. Republican politicians who originally celebrated Bergdahl’s return on their websites have taken down their comments. The intended message is clear…Bergdahl is unfit and unworthy of our consideration. Leave it to the Taliban to administer his fate.
Meanwhile Bowe Bergdahl recovers in a German hospital, unable to respond to the voices railing against him.
The Republican goal here is as transparent as it is disgusting. Smear Bergdahl and his family and call into question the president’s leader ship for supporting such miscreants. Bergdahl is merely a pawn in a much bigger game.
As I watch the Republicans use Bowe Bergdahl and his family to marginalize the president I think back to September 30, 2011. On that day Anwar al Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed by a drone attack personally authorized by President Obama. Al Awlaki was a senior talent recruiter for al Qaeda and responsible for plotting terrorists attacks against American interests. Al Awlaki killed Americans! Yet many of the president’s opponents criticized him for taking out Al Awlaki without allowing al Awlaki the due process of law afforded to all American citizens.
Many of those critics who made that case on behalf of American citizen Anwar al Awlaki in 2011 are the same ones who are denying American citizen Bowe Bergdahl due process today.
Do political pawns have rights?