* Former Army sergeant Richard Allen Smith writes in Time magazine about Bowe Bergdahl:
I’ve spoken to many of my fellow veterans, as well as many of the men who deployed with me to Afghanistan in 2007 who still wear the uniform. Their responses to the release of five Taliban detainees in exchange for Sgt. Bergdahl vary. Many are angry about his alleged desertion, and are upset that six American lives may have been lost searching for him in the months after he allegedly walked off a fire base in eastern Afghanistan, a story for which there are legitimate doubts and questions.
None that I spoke to believe Bergdahl belonged in captivity for the last five years, or that he didn’t deserve to come home and face an American military court for his possible offenses. Bergdahl is an American soldier; regardless of what circumstances led to his capture, he deserved to be returned. That anyone would express otherwise is appalling.
And if you think conservatives would have embarked on the same scorched-earth campaign against Bergdahl if the same deal was made under a Republican president, I have a bridge to sell you at a very reasonable price.
* But it looks like the conservative campaign against the Bergdahl swap has had its intended effect. In a new Pew Research Center poll, a plurality of Americans say the exchange was the wrong thing to do. That includes 71 percent of Republicans said the deal was the wrong thing to do, compared to only 24 percent of Democrats.
However, the poll also finds that 56 percent say the U.S. has an obligation to secure a captive’s release, no matter what the circumstances.
* Fernando Espuelas tries to put GOP attacks over Bergdahl in context, noting that the fading of Obamacare as an issue leaves Republicans groping for whatever they can to boost the GOP base’s enthusiasm in advance of the midterms.
* Brian Beutler asks some hard questions of those who defend the core principle behind the Bergdahl swap: What if there are circumstances under which we should leave someone behind?
* In the crazy political story of Virginia Republicans maybe bribing a state senator to retire so they could take control of the chamber, Jonathan Cohn reminds us who the real victims are: the hundreds of thousands who won’t get health insurance if the state doesn’t accept the Medicaid expansion.
* Annie Lowry offers a heartbreaking story about some of the victims of Republican cruelty on Medicaid. The town of Texarkana lies half in Texas and half in Arkansas; poor people living on the Arkansas side of town can get Medicaid, but people just a few blocks over on the Texas side can’t.
* Danny Vinik on the odd reluctance even of conservative “reformers” to acknowledge the obvious: Democrats enjoy a strong and growing demographic advantage, and the Republican policy agenda is extremely unpopular.
* In Hillary Clinton’s new book, she says forthrightly that she was wrong to vote in favor of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Peter Beinart explains how she’s rewriting the history of her vote and the rationale driving it.
* NBC has more details on the couple who killed two cops and a third person in Nevada, including information about their anti-government views from a neighbor who saw them walk away toting the weapons they’d use on their killing spree.
* And finally, a new poll shows Toronto mayor Rob Ford with a 28 percent approval rating, which when you think about it is pretty damn good, given the circumstances.