Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Biden On the Defensive

This is one ludicrous tweet:

No need to take notes- Republicans are masters at this.

GOP officials could have applauded the swap of Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner. They might have, in the manner of John Bolton, defended Republican President Donald Trump for refusing to consider bargaining with the Kremlin for Griner. They could have could have argued that the Administration should have cut a better deal. 

They could have followed the lead of Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who decried leaving behind "Marine Paul Whalen and teacher Mark Fogel."

But Rubio has been an outlier among Republicans.  Senators Lindsey Graham, Tim Scott, Rick Scott, and  James Lankford;  Representatives Mike Rogers, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Jim Banks, Kevin Hern, Nicole Malliotakis, Mike Walz, Scott Perry, Lisa McClain, Adam Kinzinger, Tim Walberg, Bill Keating, Byron Donalds, and Representative-elect John Block- all criticized the Administration's deal and cited their concern that Paul Whelan was not released. Representatives French Hall and Haley Stevens also name-checked the disgraced ex-Marine, though were less negative than the others.

It has had an immediate effect, in which 

American officials will hold talks “this week” with Russian leaders about negotiations to release former Marine Paul Whelan, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday.

“With respect to the question of whether we’ve had engagement with the Russian Federation on the Whelan case, we will have an engagement with them this week,” Sullivan told reporters.

Although Whelan was court-martialed and was given a bad-conduct discharge, he is still a "Marine" or "ex-Marine" to Republicans, who have been unsparing in their criticism of the President. Representative Banks remarked “Biden just returned the ‘Merchant of Death,’ an international arms dealer convicted of conspiring to kill Americans, to Putin and left former Marine Paul Whelan, who has been unjustly detained for over four years, to rot in a Russian prison." The price of freeing Whelan has been bid up, as Republicans have anticipated.

Reportedly, "according to a senior Biden administration official," Russia is willing to discuss Whelan because "they have things they want in the world." Reportedly, that is Vadim Krasikov, "a former colonel in Russia's domestic spy organization serving a life sentence for murder in Germany." However Washington is balking at releasing an individual in foreign custody who is described by Secretary of State spokesman John Kirby as an "assassin."

Vladimir Putin cannot help but realize that, having gained the release of Griner and confronted with harsh accusations from Republicans for not doing the same for an ex-Marine, President Biden has been painted into a corner. Freedom for Paul Whelan won't come cheap.

 "Politics ain't beanbag," the fictional Mr. Dooley once said.  As if to prove him right, Tim Scott, in a manner similar to his GOP colleagues, charged "Leaving Paul in Russia to Putin’s whim would be a disgraceful abdication of Biden’s leadership." Joe Biden has heard, and the bill for bringing Whelan back to the USA will be steep.


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