PBS/NPR 'Conservative' David Brooks: 'President Obama Was Right' on Bergdahl Swap

For most of this week, the front page of The New York Times has been trying to dig out Team Obama on the Bowe Bergdahl scandal. So it might be unsurprising that pseudo-conservative Times columnist David Brooks is echoing his "objective" colleagues in a Friday column simply titled "President Obama Was Right."

This isn't just a blatantly baked spin blossom for the Times. It might naturally spur Brooks to be asked to "complete the thought" about Obama being correct on his Friday "week in review" platforms on NPR's All Things Considered and the PBS NewsHour.

The president and vice president, the only government officials elected directly by the entire nation, have a special responsibility to nurture this national solidarity. So, of course, President Obama had to take all measures necessary to secure the release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Of course, he had to do all he could do to not forsake an American citizen.

It doesn’t matter if Bergdahl had deserted his post or not. It doesn’t matter if he is a confused young man who said insulting and shameful things about his country and his Army. The debt we owe to fellow Americans is not based on individual merit. It is based on citizenship, and loyalty to the national community we all share.

Soldiers don’t risk their lives only for those Americans who deserve it; they do it for the nation as a whole.

It's mysterious that Brooks can champion "national solidarity" and then suggest Bergdahl's complete lack of it is an irrelevancy.


Brooks also argued it doesn’t matter that the five Gitmo detainees from the Taliban might be dangerous, and “It doesn’t matter either that the United States government ended up dealing with terrorists.”  Brooks used to be a conservative on one thing, and that was the War on Terror. Now he's completely lacking anything defined as conservative.

Perhaps to retain some sense of personal dignity, Brooks tried to knock Obama’s grandstanding at the very end:

So President Obama made the right call. If he is to be faulted, it would be first for turning the release into an Oprah-esque photo-op, a political stunt filled with inaccurate rhetoric and unworthy grandstanding. It would next be for his administration’s astonishing tone-deafness about how this swap would be received.

Most of all, the Obama administration can be faulted for not at least trying to use the language of communal solidarity to explain this decision. Apparently, we have become such a hyperindividualized culture that it is impossible to even develop an extended argument on how individual cases fit into the larger fabric of the common good.

Still, the president’s instincts were right. His sense of responsibility for a fellow countryman was correct. It’s not about one person; it’s about the principle of all-for-one-and-one-for-all, which is the basis of citizenship.

Brooks is lining up nicely with his bosses, since the lead editorial in the Times on Friday was headlined "The Rush to Demonize Sgt. Bergdahl," in which they tried to protest "the outrageous demonization of Sergeant Bergdahl in the absence of actual facts."

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis