Must-viewing if you missed it last night. The court-martial bit comes near the very end, at around 16:30. I watched live and remember her asking them at one point whether they think Obama should have done the deal for Bergdahl if it meant springing the Taliban Five. If memory serves, not a single one raised his hand. I can’t find that bit in the clip below, though; it may have been a sneak preview of part two of the interview, which will air tonight.
YouGov’s got an interesting poll on that subject this morning. When you ask people a generic question about whether it’s okay for the U.S. to release suspected terrorists in exchange for an American soldier, 49 percent say no versus just 26 percent who say yes. When you tweak that question to ask them about the actual deal that was just made by the White House, the numbers tighten to 39 percent disapproval versus 36 percent approval. That may be simple partisanship at work, or it may be evidence that Obama’s Rose Garden ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents had the desired effect despite how tone-deaf it seems now. It’s easy for someone who follows the news casually to oppose a terrorist handover in principle, not so easy after they’ve just watched a mom on TV celebrating the return of her baby boy after five years.
What happens, though, when you tweak that poll question yet again to tell people Bergdahl is a suspected deserter? Uh oh:
Independents break 25/49 on that question. If you tweak the question further and ask whether it’s the government’s responsibility to trade for a soldier who actually defected to the other side, the numbers naturally collapse: It’s 10/76, with little difference among the three partisan groups. Contra Obama apologist David Brooks, it does matter why Bergdahl went missing. Why people like him and William Saletan would intone in Bergdahl’s defense about our loyalty to each other when the whole thrust of the accusation against him is that he abandoned his fellow soldiers in the field, I can’t understand.
The whole clip is worth watching, especially the second half when they respond to the “swift-boating” nonsense, but pay attention to the exchange at around 7:30 regarding what Bergdahl told them about his view of the war. The e-mails he sent his father before he disappeared suggested that he was disgusted with the military for being too brutal and callous to Afghans. (“These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.”) According to these guys, though, Bergdahl’s big complaint in conversation was that they weren’t being brutal enough. He wanted more gun battles, more “kicking in doors.” I don’t know how to reconcile that. Was he lying to them so that they wouldn’t suspect he was about to desert? If not, how do you resolve that discrepancy?