What the Bergdahl Mess Says About Obama’s Messed-Up Messaging

Bringing Bergdahl home was the right thing to do. But the way team Obama handled it highlights a major political blind spot that’s been with them all along.

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It’s part of a running pattern on issues as seemingly trivial as Obama vacationing in Martha's Vineyard—the bougiest spot in America—three years in a row in the middle of an economic downturn, to his team taking its eyes off the ball on the cornerstone task of rolling out HealthCare.gov.

At numerous flashpoints in his presidency, Obama's team has failed to apprehend the moment when they were about to lose people on a particular issue and then failed to act quickly to regain their confidence. It has made it unnecessarily difficult for them to then go out and win over public support on issues ranging from payroll taxes to Syria.

They’ve got a bad habit in the administration of making announcements and rolling out initiatives with the assumption that the majority of folks will simply take it on faith that they’re making good decisions. But that’s not how it works. The president has to make the right decisions—and then effectively explain them. Otherwise, he’s not fully doing his job.

This isn’t a knock on the president overall. Hell, I’m the guy who recapped 2013 with a list of the five things he did right.

But if Obama keeps allowing himself to get worked over by his opponents in these kinds of arguments, he’ll spend the rest of his tenure backpedaling and remediating instead of tackling what’s left of his agenda. And the odds that he’ll get anything proactive done in his second term will get slimmer every day.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

Like The Root on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.