Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

June 11, 2014

The 'swift-boating' of Bowe Bergdahl

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 soldiers 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.

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