Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Election 2014 Handicapping Addendum: Is Bergdahl the Turning Point?

This one bears a full-on advance disclaimer: I'm an anarchist. I've done my best to renounce things like nationalism and militarism. But I also spent ten years in the Marine Corps, and that stuff doesn't die easily. I still understand it. I still feel it. So when I see what's going on in the matter of one Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, US Army, I can't help but notice that the practical effects, if played upon correctly (and the indications are that Obama knows exactly what he's doing in that respect), appeal to gut values which are very common among Americans and nearly universal among military personnel, veterans and those who "support the troops." So, without further ado ...

I once met a survivor of the Marine Corps' 1st Division and its epic fight in North Korea: The Chosin Reservoir. He'd lost most of one foot and several toes on the other to frostbite on the march out. Keep that word in mind: The march out. Frostbite wasn't an excuse and the "walking wounded" walked. Why? Because the dead couldn't walk, but neither were they going to be left behind. The trucks were for them.

One year at the Marine Corps birthday ball, I was privileged to share a table with a survivor of the Bataan Death March. Captured by the Japanese in 1942 when the Philippines fell, a prisoner of war until 1945. And the one thing that kept him going? He knew America was coming back to get him.

So, US President Barack Obama:

Regardless of the circumstances, we still get an American soldier back if he's held in captivity. Period. Full stop.

Versus Sarah Palin ...

You blew it again, Barack Obama, by negotiating away any leverage against the bad guys ...

Which of these do YOU think will play in Peoria?

Which one says "YEAH! MURKA!" and which one says "herewith I drop trou and take a giant shit on the heads of America's soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines?"

Which is why most Republicans who are actually up for election this year to anything but the safest of safe seats are keeping their lips zipped and hoping it will go away before they're forced to talk about it.

The lone exception I've noticed is Georgia's marginal "Tea Party" candidate for US Senate, Jack Kingston, who issued a mealy-mouthed, try-to-have-it-both-ways statement apparently intended to boost his flagging prospects against GOP primary front-runner Sonny Perdue. Haven't heard from Perdue yet, but now he's in the position of having to either try to ignore Kingston or else issue a similar statement, which would probably seal his already ugly-looking fate against Michelle Nunn in November (this was not the only factor in my decision to move Georgia from the "tossup" category to "Democratic pickup," but it was certainly a factor).

Is Bergdahl a deserter? Maybe he is. But if so, that just increases the importance of getting him back. If you're the Commander in Chief, not only do you not leave Americans in the enemy's hands, you don't let American deserters escape the justice of the US Armed Forces.

There was no way the repatriation of the only American military prisoner in Afghanistan wasn't going to help the party holding the White House. How much it helps the Democrats depends on whether the Republicans simmer down and try to ride it out, or whether they go all in on making themselves look like supreme assholes.

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