President Obama is doubling down in his defense of his defying the rule of law, his exercising poor judgment, and his mischaracterizing (I'm trying to be charitable) the service of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — all in service of his ill-conceived "deal" to free the lone American serviceman held captive in Afghanistan.
The proximity of this poor decision to the opprobrium the president had been receiving over the Veterans Affairs hospital scandal is disquieting enough. But when it is set against his prior decision to jump at the Joint Plan of Action and "give diplomacy a chance" in the matter of Iranian nuclear ambitions, there is a downright disturbing pattern.
Is our narcissist-in-chief jumping at available, but poor, deals-in-the-offing to turn the page on his own political difficulties?
The Joint Plan of Action arguably accorded Iran the right to reprocess uranium, a critical step in the race for the bomb. Under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), signatories such as Iran are committed under international law to refrain from acquiring nuclear weapons. That's why the Bush administration was adamant that the basis for negotiations was a cessation in all Iranian reprocessing activity. The Joint Plan of Action also eased sanctions on Iran.
The quality of the Plan and the quality of the decision to swap terrorist-for-a-deserter have been widely panned on the merits. But what is also peculiar is the timing. Much like the proximity of the Bergdahl decision to the heat of the VA scandal, the decision to go forward with the Joint Plan came in the weeks after the humiliation of the "redline that wasn't" in Syria, over the use of chemical weapons.
Surely, no one would think that a U.S. president could take an available (but bad) deal simply to ease political pressure. Or if so, surely he wouldn't do it twice.
Perhaps there isn't enough evidence yet for a full-blown accusation — too much remains unknown about the circumstances of the Bergdahl situation. But previous history with this president does not incline one to give him the benefit of the doubt. There was the possible abuse of IRS authority, the flouting of the War Powers Act in Libya, the refusal to defend the integrity of our borders, the humbling in Ukraine, the cover-up of Benghazi (how sweet is it that they sent "Same Old Story Suzie [National Security Adviser Susan Rice to the unhip] out again on a Sunday morning) sheer exhaustion forbids me from continuing.
But however long you want to make the list, you have a stream of malfeasance, corruption and ineptitude that would make Millard Fillmore blush.
With this president and that record, you have to ask yourself — how big a factor was the desire, nay the need, simply to turn the page on the VA scandal in presidential decision-making? Does it explain the undue haste to secure the deal that led to a neglect of the legal duty to inform Congress? Did it, in the case of Iran, lead the administration to take a bad, but available, deal on Tehran's nuclear ambitions?
One doesn't want to think so, but raise your hand if you think this president, at this time, deserves the benefit of the doubt. Just as I thought.
All very disturbing.
• Armstrong Williams is sole owner/manager of Howard Stirk Holdings and executive editor of American CurrentSee Online Magazine.