A catastrophic outbreak of Bunched Knicker Syndrome is underway in and about Washington, D.C. Its sufferers can be identified by the plaintive cry, “We’re all happy that Bowe Bergdahl is on his way home, BUT…”
The Republicans are making a tawdry spectacle of themselves, yammering about the potential mayhem that might be done by the released Taliban figures, the worthiness of Bergdahl to be rescued at all, and even Bob Bergdahl’s beard, fer crissakes. (“Looks like Taliban,” cry the Fox News idioterati. Yeah, and as Jon Stewart pointed out, equally looks like Duck Dynasty.)
We are accustomed to sudden epidemics of BKS among Republicans, but quite a few Democrats are joining the ranks of the afflicted. Like, for example, our own Senator Patrick Leahy. His “BUT” involves the alleged lack of consultation with the wise leaders of Congress (i.e. himself) before the swap was conducted. Via VPR:
“The right decision was made any time to get an American service person back. I think that it would have been a lot better if the President had done more consulting with the appropriate members of Congress,” said Leahy.
… “Had [President Obama] done more consulting with Congress I would think he probably would have realized that there were some strong concerns that would be raised,” said Leahy.
I have two very large problems with this.
First of all, there’s a time to raise process issues and a time to shut the hell up and stand behind your President. This, St. Patrick, is an example of the latter. The President is getting hammered by every conservative voice in the country right now; he needs his folks at his back. If you do have procedural objections, this is a good time to raise them quietly with the White House rather than running to the nearest microphone.
Second, the notion that Obama would have avoided controversy if only he’d been smart enough to ask Pat Leahy is either downright laughable or completely insane. This prisoner swap has been in the works for more than two years. It’s been discussed publicly by, among many other people, Senators John McCain and Dianne Feinstein. (McCain even endorsed the idea in principle — that was, of course, before Obama had the temerity to implement the idea himself. Now, McCain is retroactively aghast.) And, according to the Washington Post, discussions about the swap between the White House and top House Republicans go back to November 2011.
So the outlines — even the very specific details — were common currency in Washington. The timing may have been kept quiet, but Leahy had plenty of opportunities to offer his Wise Counsel™
to the White House.
After the jump: A Modest Proposal.
So, while the Republican hive mind is giving the President a full-on blanket party, Our Pat is standing off to the side saying, “Well, I’d help, but you didn’t consult me first.”
This isn’t the first time St. Patrick has been more concerned with proper procedure than with good politics. There’s also the continuing imbroglio over his adherence to the “blue slip” tradition and the bad judicial deal it forced Obama to make with Georgia’s nutball Senators.
Leahy’s been in the Senate for almost 40 years now. Perhaps he has come to identify more closely with the World’s Greatest, and Richest, and Whitest, and Oldest Deliberative Body than with his party or his constituents.
Perhaps, dare I say it, he should consider retiring at the end of his current term.