There is nothing to indicate that Bowe Bergdahl’s behavior in Afghanistan was heroic. For that matter, neither was the behavior of Jessica Lynch, Lori Piestewa, or Patrick Tillman. But they were good soldiers, and that’s more important. The bar of heroism has been lowered substantially by two successive administrations, trying to put lipstick on the Afghanistan pig by showering accolades upon the soldiers fighting it. Any 13-year conflict runs the risk of some stench rubbing off on the soldiers.
It’s hard to say how history will judge Bergdahl. Forty-five years ago the feeling among active duty military and most Congressmen, including Barry Goldwater, was that John McCain was a coward and a traitor because he let himself be captured alive. Thirty years later, in 2000, the cowardice and treason allegations against McCain were dredged up again by Karl Rove and the South Carolina Republican Party as they tried to brand McCain a traitor and George Bush a flag-waving patriot in the Palmetto State Presidential Primary. Never underestimate Karl Rove. This clever little gnome and the South Carolina GOP managed to seat a candidate who had deserted from the National Guard.