Republicans and the Right Wing Noise Machine have managed to make freeing a POW into a crime prosecutable by the court of public opinion.
Public opposition to the exchange of five Taliban prisoners for captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl has less to do with Bergdahl himself and more with how President Obama handled the transfer, according to a new USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll.
The poll shows 43% of Americans say it was wrong for Obama to make the deal, compared with 34% who say it was the right thing to do.
Thirty percent of those surveyed have a strong opinion of Bergdahl, whose decision to leave his post in 2009 and subsequent capture by the Taliban is under investigation by the Army. Half of respondents say they were sympathetic, and half say they are angry with Bergdahl.
The 128 veterans included in the poll are much more harsh in their assessment of the 28-year-old sergeant. Only 6% of veterans who responded say they sympathized with him, while 33% say they were angry. By 68%-16%, veterans say Obama made the wrong decision.
"If he was a captured prisoner of war, we wouldn't be having this discussion," says Joe Davis, the director of public affairs for the Veterans of Foreign Wars. "He put his teammates in jeopardy, and you absolutely don't do that in a combat zone."
Veterans are worried about the precedent set by the transfer, Davis says. "We have a long history in this country of not negotiating with terrorists," he says. "And we just did."
So a week of smearing Bergdahl and his family in order to attack President Obama has generated some quality poutrage for the right. But it was fine when Bush released hundreds more prisoner for Guantanamo. Not a peep from the VFW, no national shame campaign from the GOP, no hatred from the "liberal" media. Obama does it, it's criminal.
We deserve the country we've allowed the GOP to shape for us, because we're not smart enough to know better.