Speed Reads

Bergdahl Backlash

David Brooks sides with Obama on Bergdahl swap

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Say you're a conservative columnist who needs to produce a lot of content. And let's also say you've managed to keep your powder mostly dry thus far on the Bowe Bergdahl story. You now have basically two choices. You can repeat the criticism that almost every other conservative columnist in America (save for maybe Charles Krauthammer) has offered. Or you can make a more contrarian argument.

Enter New York Times columnist David Brooks:

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. [New York Times]

Now, nobody I know of didn't want Sgt. Bergdahl to come home. The question has always been whether it was prudent to trade five Taliban members held at Gitmo for Bergdahl. There is also a legitimate question over whether Bergdahl should have been hailed as a hero who "served with honor and distinction" and was deserving of a Rose Garden announcement.

In fairness to Brooks, though, this is somewhat consistent with his brand of communitarian conservatism. It's also an example of opportunistic column trolling. It's always terrific when one's political philosophy and business interests can merge.