There are two theories on how the mostly conservative backlash to the Bowe Bergdahl trade will play out: conservatives will alienate most Americans, or Americans will continue to have a complicated, messy relationship with war. The Obama administration believes that if it lets Fox News draw this out, the network and other conservative outlets will eventually alienate Americans, reminding them that no soldier left behind is a "sacred rule." The other theory, laid out in Time's cover story, is that Bergdahl's homecoming, like the Afghanistan war, was too complicated to be a feel-good moment.
President Obama said on Thursday he wasn't surprised by the backlash over trading prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five members of the Taliban. But, according to Politico, he also didn't expect questions of Bergdahl's alleged desertion to be the focal point. The White House's new strategy is to "frame the criticism as another example of Republicans complaining about something just because Obama was the one to do it," according to Politico. The White House knew about and has been looking into claims that Bergdahl deserted, but didn't see leaving him as an option. They think popular opinion will follow them. “I think the principle of leaving no man behind will ultimately prevail,” White House spokesperson Eric Schultz told Politico.