Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl is back on American soil. He is, as far as I know, unaware that he has become the latest pawn in the never-ending game of "Let’s Get Obama." It’s a variation on something that Republicans have played for a long time. The goal, as always, is to protect the interests of a small percentage of obscenely wealthy people (invariably referred to as "job creators") by exploiting social issues and pandering to the religious and moral sensibilities of enough voters to get them elected. As long as the old axiom that there are none so blind holds true, the future looks bright.
It probably won’t be long before Sgt. Bergdahl recalls his five years of Taliban captivity and abuse as "the good old days" because nobody can do a smear campaign with quite the finesse of a predatory politician who smells blood. This particular crew has had six years to sharpen their spears. God knows, they haven’t accomplished much else.
"Let’s Get Obama" is a board game with which the American public became royally bored a long time ago. Only members of congress who swear never to allow any bipartisan piece of legislation to advance are allowed to play. That might seem excessively restrictive, but it means that virtually every GOP member of the House is eligible. (After the Affordable Care Act became law, everyone had to go back to square one.)
The players just draw a card and then try to mold what is printed on it to their own political advantage. If, for example, a card reads, "Americans are killed when a U.S. consulate is attacked," the blame for the entire incident has to be heaped upon the president’s shoulders. Players can gain even more points if they manage to also implicate a woman whose very name is as dreaded as a "Go directly to jail" card.
The most obvious retort, of course, is to insist that the White House shamefully tried to present the attack in a light that would be the most favorable to the president. That tired modus operandi is the political world’s equivalent of a golden oldie and it turns up with the same frequency as "You Light Up My Life" did when the song first came out.
Great caution has to be exercised to avoid mentioning two troubling aspects of this hypothetical consulate siege situation. If the player chooses to go the "under protected" route, attention should not be drawn to the fact that it was one of the GOP’s grim reaper budget cuts that left many -- if not all -- United States embassies and consulates more vulnerable in a world that eight years of George W. Bush rendered significantly more dangerous. (A player automatically looses a turn if W.’s name is even mentioned.)
The other potential pothole is the fact that there were 13 similar attacks during the heady days of the wing-nut neocons with no corresponding outcry. No John McCain plaintively asking, "Don’t you even care about dead Americans?" According to a recent editorial in the New York Times, that same pothole has suddenly appeared in the road that conservatives hoped to travel to launch yet another attack on the president. This time it was by the public humiliation of an American soldier and his family.
Anyone drawing a card that says, "The president successfully negotiates the release of an American prisoner of war" is going to have to proceed cautiously. The obvious response would be that the the men the president set free are at liberty to pose more threats to the country, but that’s generally the way these prisoner exchanges work, isn’t it? The Times’ editorial reminds readers that a terrorist far more dangerous than any of the detainees who were released in exchange for Bergdahl "disappeared" from Guantanamo in 2003. Abdullah Tabarak was bin Laden’s chief bodyguard. He gave himself up to facilitate bin Laden’s escape after the September 11 attacks.
Mr. Tabarak surfaced again a year later in Morocco. The Bush administration never explained his release. Explanations undermine governing by arrogance. It has since been speculated that he was released because Morocco played host to one of the CIA’s torture sites, another aspect of the Bush administration that was kept under tight wraps.
There is no concern whatsoever for the fact that this young man, sent into the crucible of a hellish, never-ending war, might possibly have been experiencing psychological problems (if, indeed, that proves to be the case at all). I love to hear right-wing pundits pontificating from the vantage point of their padded chairs on the subject of how real Americans should behave after they are thrust into a world where every movement might portend sudden death.
We have all heard of the high road and the low road. This particular route might be called the subterranean road, where travelers have to look up just to see the low road. The objective, however, is still Barack Obama. Sacrificing some low-ranking soldier, whose father even looks like a Taliban sympathizer, is a small price to pay in that noble quest.
Alden Graves is a Banner columnist.