Friday, December 09, 2022

Beyond Whelan

This is fairly typical of Republican criticism of the Bout for Griner trade made by the Biden Administration:

And so is this:

The hypocrite-in-Chief, who as President refused to be bothered by Whelan's imprisonment, posted on his Truth Social "Why wasn't former Marine Paul Whelan included in this totally one-sided transaction? He would have been let out for the asking. What a 'stupid' and unpatriotic embarrassment for the USA!!!"

Whelan deserved to be released by Russia, just as Brittney deserved and was. After making an offer, in May Secretary of State spokesman Kirby had stated “We urge the Russians to move positively on that proposal, so we can get these two individuals home. The details of it, I think, are best left between us and our Russian counterparts.” A few days ago, he stated that he was he was “led to believe that things were moving in the right direction and that the governments were negotiating and that something would happen fairly soon.”

The President’s critics have not only focused on Whelan, their expressed concern for those left behind in Russia has been confined to the ex-Marine.  Why is that?

The answer, at least partially, is that he is a Marine. Not currently, but formerly. After enlisting in the Marines, he rose to the level of staff sergeant, served two tours in Iraq, and later was discharged for bad conduct “after being convicted of several charges related to larceny, according to the records.”

That was in 2008, fourteen years ago, and if the Administration’s negotiators didn’t resemble marks at a poker table, the deal Joe Biden signed off on wouldn’t have been one-sided.

While determined to bring a basketball star home, the Administration should address the plight of other Americans, including doing work important to both the American people and their government.

The Washington Post in July reported

“There’s a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach that Marc will be left behind,” Jane Fogel said. “It’s terrifying. I would hope that President Biden and especially first lady Jill Biden, who is an educator, realize the importance of including Marc in addition to Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan.”

In suburban Pittsburgh, Jane Fogel has been watching the Griner case spool out and wondered whether her husband has been forgotten. Griner’s wife, Cherelle, received a call from the president. The Fogels have been stalled at the mid-functionary level of the U.S. State Department. Speculation about a possible prisoner swap before Blinken’s announcement on Wednesday had earlier trickled into his Russian prison cell, compounding his anxiety.

“That hurt,” Marc Fogel wrote in a letter home referencing the prisoner-exchange reports. “Teachers are at least as important as bballers.”

Surely he jests. He believes teachers are at least as important as basketball players. I believe teachers are at least as important as basketball players.

But whatever the First Lady's professional background, the Biden Administration doesn't believe teachers are at least as important as basketball players. Democrats are partial, as Representative Walz maintains, to celebrities- and being a lesbian and black didn't hurt her. And Republicans are avoiding the opportunity presented to them in promoting the importance of teachers. After all, Foley wasn't a Marine.

So Marc Fogel- and others- languish. They are not stars, and they are not ex-Marines. And, so, they get left behind, unsurprising given the quality of the people we've been electing for years.



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