Nothing about the Bergdahl/Taliban affair should have been surprising to people who have studied Obama over the years.

Not Obama’s audacity, nor his disregard of prior bipartisan warnings in Congress or from the intelligence community, nor his aides’ attempts to discredit those from Bergdahl’s unit who are calling Bergdahl a deserter or worse, nor Obama’s refusal to offer any apologies whatsoever for his actions in this affair, nor his lies and broken promises, nor the fact that quite a few Democrats are lining up to defend him like the good party hacks that they are.

An intellectual reaction is one thing. But there’s still an emotional reaction—what Peter Wehner referred to as a visceral reaction—which is to be stunned, disgusted, outraged, and full of trepidation about both the long-term effects of this move and what Obama will be doing for a series of encores.

I’ve been wanting to know what the American electorate thinks of it all. Today I read that the results of a Fox News poll showed Americans evenly split on the subject, and that news surprised me, too, although it probably shouldn’t have.

But turning to the poll itself, it seems that it was taken June 1-3, which would be the second, third, and fourth days after the story broke. If I understand these things correctly, that would mean that approximately a third of respondents were questioned June 1, and another third on the second. That makes the results of the poll as a whole nearly meaningless, since so much of importance in the story hadn’t yet come out.

The poll is a curious document, as these things often are. It contains questions about many topics, and Bergdahl was hardly one of the main issues it probed. That was one of the very last questions asked, number 45, and its phrasing went like this: “Do you approve or disapprove of the United States releasing five Taliban prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for the release of a U.S. soldier who was being held as a prisoner of war in Afghanistan?,” with 45% approving, 47% disapproving, and 8% uncertain. Note that Bergdahl’s name isn’t even mentioned.

So we may not be able to conclude much about public opinion of the Bergdahl exchange from this poll; subsequent ones will tell the tale. The poll did measure a fairly high level of dissatisfaction with Obama about the VA scandal that had been dominating the news prior to the Bergdahl incident. Hmmm. And I found the response to this question interesting, too: “Do you think the Obama administration is more or less competent than the George W. Bush administration?” Only 42% said more competent and 48% less competent. Interesting, no? And yet Obama’s approval rate in the poll was 40%, which seems to represent the percentage of Americans who will not desert him no matter what.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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