“They put too positive a spin on what is a very ambiguous set of circumstances,” Southern Methodist University professor Cal Jillson said.
“A big part of the WH stew on this is typical photo op hubris,” said Boston University political strategist Tobe Berkovitz. “Instead of just bringing Bergdahl back, they had to do the full kissy-huggy announcement with mom and dad figuring this good news would push the VA mess off the front page.”
The administration believed any criticism of the deal would be overshadowed by a positive story: the freeing of a U.S. soldier after five years of captivity in Afghanistan, just as the war there is drawing to an end.
It expected some criticism over the release of the Guantanamo prisons, and it also expected lawmakers would be angered they weren’t informed of the deal in advance. But it didn’t see the criticism of Berghdahl himself coming.