The traditional media is hyperventilating again, attempting to create a controversy where there is none. Corporatist and Blue Dog Democrats, instead of sticking up for a president who is following precedent, joined the fray of a Republican machine intent on bringing down the president and the Democratic Party.
The president deserves kudos on this one for not soft tracking or backtracking about his decision to exchange prisoners in Gitmo for an American soldier, Bowe Robert Bergdahl. There is some question as to whether Bergdahl was a deserter, traitor or worthy of exchange. The president in no uncertain terms made that statement moot: "I make absolutely no apologies for making sure that we get back a young man to his parents," President Obama said, "and that the American people understand that this is somebody’s child and that we don’t condition whether or not we make the effort to try to get them back."
There was more to that news conference on the domestic side than meets the eye. There was a choice of words and inferences that one should note. He first dismisses Congress as if they are a pack of spoiled children when he says, "I’m never surprised by controversies that are whipped up in Washington, all right? That’s — that’s par for the course."
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President Obama gives the absolute reason he made the move when he did when he said, "We do not leave anybody wearing the American uniform behind. We had a prisoner of war whose health had deteriorated and we were deeply concerned about. And we saw an opportunity and we seized it." Note the implication that he was not going to allow himself to be tied up in the minutia with a childish Congress as the life of an American soldier was at stake.
For the less informed or the willfully ignorant, he reminded them that "prisoner exchanges with enemies is not unique to my administration. It dates back to the beginning of our republic." He highlighted the release in the Rose Garden because "it was important for people to understand that this is not some abstraction." Americans soldiers have been fighting wars for over a decade. A very small percentage of the American population serve. Yet as our soldiers have problems getting jobs and health care, most Americans simply go on with their busy lives. It is important to pause and realize sacrifices have been made, and are still being made, by many.
President Obama then in no uncertain terms stated to whom he feels responsible to when he said, "And as commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces, I am responsible for those kids, and I get letters from parents who say, if you are, in fact, sending my child into war, make sure that that child is being taken care of. And I write too many letters to folks who, unfortunately, don’t see their children again after fighting a war."
Going forward, one would hope that President Obama will continue to take the "no apologies" approach. Maybe as leader of the Democratic Party, if he is more forceful with that stance, other Democrats will get the spine to do so as well. After all, most of the president’s policies, internationally and domestically, that have had Republicans hyperventilating and some Democrats cowering have proven right in the end.
Obamacare may actually get some southern Democrats elected even as Republicans begin to beg for the Medicaid expansion to Obamacare. The policy derisively labeled "leading from behind" has been less expensive, ultimately saving American lives and treasure, and ensuring other countries engage. Even as Republicans continue to obstruct policies to prime the U.S. economy, the job market has recovered all the jobs destroyed by the trickle-down economic policy that caused a recession in 2008.
Many have been disappointed in this president. Many think he did not live up to his rhetoric. Many knew he could not live up to the rhetoric but that he had the wherewithal—more so than most—to govern in these difficult times. He has done just that.
President Obama is offering no apologies for his action in rescuing Bergdahl. The president and other Democrats must offer no apologies for supporting middle-class centric policies. During the 2014 midterm elections, the Democrats must take a new stance—Democrats must make Republicans apologize for the damage they have inflicted on this country.