It didn’t take long for Republicans to settle on a way to crap all over President Obama securing the freedom of four U.S. prisoners from Iran this weekend, including former Marine Amir Hekmati, Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, and Pastor Saeed Abedini. It’s a tough sale to begin with, expressing happiness at the release of the prisoners while explaining that Obama is still a bad, bad man whose just-implemented nuclear deal in no way opened the door to this positive development, or to the quick release of 10 U.S. sailors who accidentally encroached into Iranian waters last week.
That’s what Republicans are trying to sell, and their main argument is that by making any sort of a deal for these unjustly detained Americans, President Obama has given the forces of evil a green light to capture Americans. The Republican who made that argument with the sincerest face and most concerned voice this weekend was Ted Cruz:
The result of this, every bad actor on earth has been told go capture an American. If you want terrorists out of the jail, capture an American and President Obama is in the let’s make a deal business. That’s a really dangerous precedent.
Also joining in was Marco Rubio, whose voice finally changed at this week’s Republican debate, and is now able to use his big-boy serious voice to explain why Obama is very, very bad even though he’s glad the prisoners are home. Interestingly, Rubio had a hard time getting around to telling Chuck Todd that President Rubio would have left these guys to rot until Iran just gave them up voluntarily:
MARCO RUBIO: When I become President of the United States, our adversaries around the world will know that America is no longer under the command of someone weak like Barack Obama. And it will be like Ronald Reagan where as soon as he took office, the hostages were released from Iran. We would impose additional sanctions, not just this Congressional sanctions now that would have been–
CHUCK TODD: You wouldn’t have given Iran anything–
MARCO RUBIO: more additional sanctions on Iran.
CHUCK TODD: You wouldn’t have given Iran anything even if it meant–
MARCO RUBIO: We would have gotten them home–
CHUCK TODD: –that Iran–
MARCO RUBIO: We would have gotten them home.
CHUCK TODD: Without giving them anything.
MARCO RUBIO: Well, we would have given them sanctions, crippling sanctions.
He had an easier time of it in October, before Obama actually got them released, when he flat-out told Greta Van Susteren that there was no way he would ever make a deal for hostages. But okay, we get it. Making deals for hostages is horrible, and only endangers other Americans, so even if you like the idea of getting these guys back, there is a greater, life-and-death principle at work here.
Well, I guess that’s it. My work is done here. I’m just going to go home and see if Mrs. Columbo will fix me some warm milk, all this detective work has me keyed up.
Oh, but there’s just one more thing, Mr. Rubio. I really like that Greta Van Susteren, she’s great, and Mrs. Columbo and I were watching her a few months back when she reported this:
Oh, I forgot, Mrs. Columbo also loves that Wolf Blitzer, must be the beard. So, he also reported that you were demanding that President Obama include these exact same prisoners in with the nuclear deal. In fact, you sent Secretary of State John Kerry a letter in which you demanded that very thing. Wait, no, it was two letters.
And Mr. Cruz, I’m glad you dropped by, because Mrs. Columbo and I are also big C-SPAN 2 fans, so we saw you complaining, in September, about the prisoners being left out of the deal, “cruelly excluded,” if memory serves.
“And even while Iranians such as Suleimani get relief, four Americans were cruelly excluded from this deal: Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen imprisoned for 8 years in an Iranian prison for the crime of preaching the Gospel; former marine Amir Hekmati; Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian; and Bob Levinson. It is a disgrace on our Nation that we agreed to any deal with Tehran before they were liberated.”
So, this is a little bit confusing to me, because both of you have also said that the Iran nuclear deal “gives” Iran $150 billion dollars (it actually gives them access to their own money). I especially like the way Mr. Cruz says it, all loud and excited:
“If President Obama doesn’t like the rhetoric, that he should stop being the world’s leading global financier of radical Islamic terrorism, then he should stop financing radical Islamic terrorism!”
So, here’s what confuses me, gentlemen, and maybe you can help me out. You’re both saying that a prisoner trade puts every American in danger, but a $150 billion terrorist ransom wouldn’t have? Or maybe that $150 billion would have created a more acceptable risk to the life of every American?
It seems to me that either the principle you’re citing now is baloney––and please excuse my language, Mrs. Columbo isn’t here to keep me in line––and you’re just using it as an excuse to criticize the President, or your demand that they be included in the nuclear deal was baloney, and you were just using these prisoners as a way to sabotage the deal.
I like to think the best of people, so I’m going to go with the first one, but it would be nice if people like Mr. Chuck Todd or Mr. Chris Wallace would ask you which it is. Anyway, thanks for your patience, I’ll just be going now.
Oh, but there’s just one more thing. Mr. Cruz, Mr. Rubio, you’ve both said that this whole shebang shows how this Obama fella is weak, that in the process of trying to disarm Iran, he made a deal to get back some hostages. Well, that got me thinking, especially when Mr. Rubio said he’d be more like that Ronald Reagan fella. That name rings a bell, I seem to recall seeing him on television once, too:
“A few months ago I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages. My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”
Now, I’m really confused, because it sounds like Mr. Rubio is saying he won’t make a deal to get back hostages like this Obama fella, unless he can make sure Iran gets some weapons in the process. That doesn’t sound right to me. You would think Reagan would be the last guy he’d want to bring up.
You guys talk it over with Mr. Todd and Mr. Wallace. I’ll just let myself out.
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