If conscious thinking Americans have followed the news over the last three months, they would have read, or at least heard about two stories involving two American servicemen who were, in one manner or another, captured and held in foreign countries. However, the similarities of those apprehensions end right there. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, a member of the United States Army was either captured by, or surrendered to, the Taliban in Afghanistan in June 2009, while Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who was recently honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps, was apprehended by Mexican authorities this past March for mistakenly crossing into Mexico and failing to observe the country’s strict firearms laws.
From the time of Tahmooressi’s imprisonment and in the midst of a seemingly endless parade of government scandals, the country witnessed Barack Obama struggle desperately to legitimize his presidency in the remainder of his lame duck term in no-holds-barred fashion. Granted, the job of being president of the United States and the leader of the Free World is not an easy one by any stretch of the imagination. However, few American presidents, Jimmy Carter included, have failed to lead the country, or unite its citizens, or caused more harm to the American reputation across the globe the way that President Barack Obama has.
From the abomination of the Affordable Care Act legislation, which was intended to be the cornerstone of his presidential legacy, through Chicago style appointments of tax-evading and law-breaking cabinet members, to an Attorney General continuing to serve while under a Congressional order of Contempt, to the National Security Agency’s unlawful surveillance of American citizens, to the warrantless seizure of Associated Press telephone records, to the I.R.S. targeting of conservative groups, to the unspeakable dereliction of duty to safeguard American lives and the failure to come to the aid of American sovereignty under attack in Benghazi, Libya and the absurd cover-up that followed, to the latest and perhaps most disgraceful scandal involving the loss of life and the associated cover-up of wide-spread corruption within the Department of Veterans Affairs, this president needed a positive news story, and he needed it fast.
The White House was undoubtedly frantic. What could possibly deflect attention away from the Veterans Affairs scandal in a way that would finally put some solid points on the Obama scoreboard? The administration needed some way to counter all the president’s failed policies and falling poll numbers, at least up to that point in time. While the White House scrambled time after time to dismiss each event ridiculing each with the wave of a hand as another “phony scandal” created by a partisan Republican party determined to tear down Obama’s presidency, the president’s foreign policies have imploded and caused utter chaos in Iraq, literally undoing the progress that had been made since the start of the Iraq war.
Domestically, Obama’s policy of ignoring the invasion of America at its southern border has become an explosion of monumental proportions with thousands of unaccompanied children crossing the border daily and surrendering to U.S. border authorities. The world, if following along, is witnessing a hapless American president, no doubt ridiculed by other world leaders, playing his Pied Piper flute for a mindless liberal following, while governing the greatest nation on Earth in a way that more resembles Murphy’s Law, than Constitutional law. That is, when he is not being videotaped working up a sweat with five-pound weights in the gym at a Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland.
Enter Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.
The president, in an apparent effort to break a current losing streak that has spanned his entire presidency, and as a means to further his promise to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, negotiated the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from captivity in Afghanistan by agreeing to free five major Taliban detainees. With the requirement to notify Congress 30 days prior to the release of any Guantanamo detainee an unacceptable inconvenience to the president, he simply disregarded it in his haste to publicize something positive. Time was of the essence and the president needed to act forthwith to interrupt the downward spiral of his popularity. On May 31, 2014, breaking news hit the networks. Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl; freed; five Taliban fighters, freed; photo-op with Bergdahl’s parents on national television, done. Mission accomplished. A score for Team Obama? No.
Many observers viewed the lopsided trade of one junior enlisted alleged deserter who held the rank of U.S. Army Private at the time of his Taliban imprisonment in exchange for the equivalent of five enemy field generals, exemplifies the weakness of this president and the desperate measures he is willing to take in order to salvage what is left of his presidency. Problematic is this Commander-in-Chief’s disposition to compromise the security of the country and the safety of American lives in order to protect his own political life. The action President Obama took demonstrated another in a long litany of incidents of him circumventing the Constitution and its provision for checks and balances. In this case, without Congressional notification or approval, he unilaterally authorized the release of the five Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay, transparently citing the condition of Bergdahl’s failing health as justification.
Due to the highest quality of American medicine, fears that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl would die from his imperiled health while in Taliban captivity have since been abated. Now that Bergdahl’s medical crisis has passed and he has regained his health, in just six short weeks since he was freed, Sgt. Bergdahl, once feared near death which was the single most critical circumstance compelling the president to act alone, is now back on duty. Now that Bergdahl is back home, the Army’s investigation into his capture is continuing. Observers are optimistic that investigators may for the first time actually conduct interviews of Bergdahl’s former platoon mates who have direct knowledge of relevant events. Any adjudication of Sgt. Bergdahl is likely to be as political in nature as was his negotiated release.
As more details surface, by what twisted logic could this be hailed as a political victory for the president? The answer is simply that he says it is a victory. He is the president and that is all he needs to do to make something so. If there is any doubt, let those doubts all be summarily dispelled by consulting with television talking heads Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow or Chris Hayes, who are all recognized experts on, well, twisted logic.
Enter Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi.
In March 2014, while in the process of moving, former U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi had all of his worldly possessions, including his personal legally owned firearms, in his truck while searching for a place to live. According to his mother Jill, Tahmooressi was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps and moved to San Diego so that he could get treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after completing two combat tours in Afghanistan. While looking for a place to live, she said her son mistakenly crossed the border and ended up in Mexico where he was eventually detained and then arrested after he voluntarily disclosed the presence of his firearms. According to his mother, Tahmooressi has no criminal record and had no intention of crossing the border, let alone crossing the border with a truck filled with every item of personal property he owns.
Although the Tahmooressi ordeal is still unresolved, history will likely bear out that both the Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi situations were colossal failures for this very unsophisticated president. In July 2014, almost six years into his presidency, Obama was declared the worst American president since World War II, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll. There can be little doubt that his scandal riddled presidency weighed heavily with respondents in spite of the blind eye with which he has been viewed by his co-opted left-leaning media.
There is an irony about the Bergdahl and Tahmooressi incidents. In the Bergdahl case, there were the extreme political contortions that President Obama went through to free an alleged U.S. Army deserter held captive in a country on the other side of the globe, arguably at great risk to the security of the United States. Yet in the case of Tahmooressi, there is a complete absence of presidential involvement with the Mexican government next door on behalf of a former U.S. Marine who actually saw combat action in Afghanistan, who served honorably and who by virtue of a wrong turn and extenuating circumstances, was imprisoned by the Government of Mexico.
In reality, Obama’s attempt to reverse his failing image as president by orchestrating the release of five hard core Taliban fighters in exchange for the release of one Bowe Bergdahl, and his absolute lack of intervention on behalf of Andrew Tahmooressi, has had the exact opposite effect. That is, unless one uses some progressive alternative Common Core-like twisted logic. Then of course in that case, President Obama is once more the hero and the darling of his party.
Opinion by Mark Politi