June 5, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: ‘Suck It Up and Salute:’ Bergdahl, Kerry and the left’s view of the military.

“If I’ve lost Neuman, I’ve lost Middle America.” That’s how we imagine President Obama reacting to being scathed by MAD magazine. The Usual Gang of Idiots tweeted a parody poster yesterday for “Barack Obama’s Unfortunate New Movie,” titled “Trading Private Bergdahl.” The tag line: “They got five Taliban leaders. We got one deserting weasel. The mission is a disaster.” Obama is depicted as the lead actor, with the Taliban quintet in supporting roles. The picture is rated “NC” for “No Congressional Approval.”

How in the world did an administration known for political competence, if for no other kind, manage to pull off such a public-relations disaster? The answer is that the left has a very large blind spot when it comes to military culture. . . .

The Bergdahl deal, then, was a rare example of competent execution by this administration–albeit of a policy that was the product of atrocious judgment.

But the administration seems to have been taken completely by surprise by the hostile reaction to the deal’s purported upside, Bergdahl’s release. That Time report contains a clue as to why: “Obama’s move was an ultimate victory for those at the White House and the State Department who had previously argued the military should ‘suck it up and salute,’ says the official familiar with the debate.”

That would be John Kerry’s state department. There are some intriguing similarities between young Bergdahl and the young Kerry, as well as between the administration’s current adversity and that which faced Kerry when he ran for president in 2004.