The past several days have brought out the absolute worst in flip-flopping hypocrisy over the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, tirelessly chronicled by the likes of Majority FM producer Matt Binder and our own Bob Cesca, as conservatives went from wailing about forgotten hero Bowe Bergdahl to having him shot against a wall with President Obummer. On Thursday morning, though, Joe Scarborough became the One Ring to Rule Them All, the Elvis Presley of Bowe Bergdahl fuckery.
Before I get to that, though, I'd like to dispose of a narrower bit of dumbshittery that's getting tossed around, because it pertains directly to my beat. Scarborough specifically criticizes the President for making the announcement in the Rose Garden, because it's "the President's trophy case," a place where only the most "momentous events" occur. This is a line of attack I've hear elsewhere, including on CNN's The Leadwith Jake Tapper, where National Journal's Ron Fournier called the Rose Garden a "sacred spot," and referred to Saturday's announcement as a "ceremony."
This talking point is part of a mainstream media narrative trying to sell the Obama administration as somehow celebrating the service of Bowe Bergdahl, of overhyping the release, and now, of facing an unforeseen backlash. It is bullshit. Here are some of the "momentous events" the President has held in the "sacred" Rose Garden recently:
THE PRESIDENT makes a personnel announcement: his intent to nominate current HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan as OMB Director and San Antonio Mayor Julián Castro to replace him.
THE PRESIDENT is interviewed by local and national meteorologists participating in “Weather from the White House”
THE PRESIDENT hosts a Cinco de Mayo reception
President Obama to Pardon National Thanksgiving Turkey
You get the idea. The Rose Garden is the place where the President announces things if the weather is nice. Most Rose Garden events are poorly attended by the press, but still chock-full of video and still photographers, which are tougher to cram into the briefing room. Still, maybe Fournier and Scarborough are suggesting that Obama should have used the east Room, where the President handles little shit like this. Wonder how that would have gone over.
The return of Sgt. Bergdahl, despite the controversy surrounding his disappearance, is a genuinely momentous event, newsworthy because it kept the promise we make to all of our servicemembers, but also because it has implications beyond Bergdahl's family, beyond that sacred promise. The return of our last POW paves the way for political reconciliation in Afghanistan, and clears the consciences of those military commanders and servicemembers who would not have felt comfortable leaving a man, any man, behind as we withdraw. The President defended the announcement this morning during a joint press conference, offering "no apologies":
Back to Morning Joe, though, where things got so crazy that Steve Rattner actually said that we should have left Bowe Bergdahl to die in Afghanistan, but should definitely have made the deal if Joe Scarborough were ever captured by the Taliban. That's because Joe Scarborough isn't suspected of desertion, or maybe even treason, based on the speculation and contradictory recollections of his former unit, including a failure to share barbecue and beers. Scarborough goes on to say that "damn straight it matters that he was a deserter," and "damn straight that you leave him there," and we should reserve such recovery efforts for people who "didn't actively seek out, possibly, the enemy."
Now, keep in mind, none of this has been proven, and in fact, there's actionable intelligence that suggests Bergdahl may have intended to return, according to the military's own investigation. We don't know. But at least Scarborough is one of the few to admit that he thinks Bergdahl should have been left to die, instead of going on about how awful everything about this deal was before concluding by saying how "happy" he is to have an American home. Scarborough's owning it.
Before you judge him too harshly, though, there are people whom Joe Scarborough feels deserve due process. No, not an American citizen who joins the armed forces to fight our enemies, then is captured while, at very least, absent without leave. Not that guy. If you're an American citizen who joins our enemy, helps get 13 people massacred on a military base, and plans other terrorist attacks, that's the guy Joe Scarborough wants to make sure gets due process:
Luckily for Joe Scarborough, there's very little chance that he will ever be captured by an enemy force, because it's very unlikely that he will ever volunteer to fight and die for his country. Bowe Bergdahl did that, and President Obama is correct that once you do, no matter what happens after that, the very least we owe you is to never leave you in enemy hands.