June 4

In an enlightening story, The Washington Post gives us a look “Inside the Obama administration’s debate over freeing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.” Post reporters Adam Goldman and Scott Wilson obviously have a number of informed sources who we can assume have a variety of reasons for wanting to talk. Some want to tell the truth; others may just want to cover their tracks or seek to escape or assign blame.

But one particular phrase in the story caught my eye. Goldman and Wilson write that “White House advisers believed that a successful exchange would not only free Bergdahl but would also encourage moderate Taliban members to take an Afghan-led reconciliation process seriously.” What? I’m sorry, but how would handing over five high-risk Taliban leaders in exchange for one U.S. soldier do anything other than encourage more Taliban crazies to capture more U.S. hostages?

Anyway, these advisers are the same people who have been wringing their hands over how to give Vladimir Putin an “off-ramp” in Ukraine as the Russian president ignores and taunts President Obama. They never caught on that Putin was winning. And, these are the same people who think unilaterally sacrificing U.S. jobs and raising power bills with punitive regulations that will have no appreciable effect on global warming will somehow make other nations follow suit.

This White House is not only misguided, flat-footed and increasing tone deaf, the inner circle is also so delusional that it can’t see the world as it really exists. It is beyond foolhardy; it is dangerous.

And oh by the way, if national security adviser Susan Rice ever goes on another Sunday news program, the ratings will be high — but she won’t have a high bar to clear for success. Everyone will tune in and her performance will be considered remarkable if she gets through her entire segment without telling a colossal whopper. Everybody I know who knows her says she is smart, so what is the deal with her Sunday morning problem?

It’s safe to assume Rice knew there were questions about Bergdahl’s service that would contradict her claim he served “the United States with honor and distinction” and that she also knew the White House had negotiated with terrorists for his release and had not consulted with Congress. So what could possibly explain her jaw-dropping, surreal performance last Sunday? I think it is further proof — in case we needed any — that this White House operates in an insular bubble that breeds arrogance and a lack of self-awareness. This administration has little use for anyone outside its small circle, it doesn’t learn from its mistakes and it doesn’t take any criticism to heart. The president and his advisers believe they are morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us, and any criticism just proves that point. Team Obama believes that candor is beneath it. What else can explain its blindside? The Bergdahl story isn’t anywhere close to being over.

We have two more years of this administration. Let’s all hope for the best.

 

Note to readers: I’m off with the wife and kids on a round-the-world family trip. I won’t use the word “vacation”: We’re going to five cities in 16 days, and nobody checks a bag. Anyway, I may be posting less frequently or even more unpredictably than usual. And, I may say even more colorful things given jetlag and the stress of traveling.

 

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Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.