While the rest of America is celebrating the release of four American hostages by the Iranian government during a prisoner swap agreement, the Republican candidates did the predictable: they attacked President Obama for it.
“. . . [a] total disgrace”
U.S. officials confirmed today four prisoners — Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati, Pastor Saeed Abedini, and Nostratollah Khosravi-Roodsari — were all released by Iranians as part of a prisoner exchange that saw seven Iranian prisoners released from the U.S.
Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio, in Iowa trying to drum up support, argued Obama was the reason the Iranians took American hostages to begin with. He blamed Obama for the prisoner swap — because Obama made “concessions” — and even drew a direct comparison between the prisoners and Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl:
None of them did anything wrong. And we shouldn’t be involved in swaps. They should never have happened is my point. I’m glad that if these reports are true, of course we are happy for them and their families but they should have never been there. And the fact of the matter is this tells us all we need to know about the Iranian regime: That they take people hostage in order to gain concessions. And the fact that they can get away with it with this administration is one of the reasons – I think it’s created an incentive for more governments to do this around the world. Prisoner swap with the Cubans – actually it wasn’t even a swap with the Cubans- they released someone who did nothing wrong in Alan Gross in exchange for people who committed crimes. In the case of these individuals they did nothing wrong – we’ll see what concessions were gained beyond massive sanctions relief. But when you do deals like the Bergdahl deal and other things, you are incentivizing people to take Americans hostage and prisoner, even if they’ve done nothing wrong. But on the specific release, I’m going to wait for that to be public and confirmed before I comment on it.
Of course, what Rubio said pales in comparison to what front-runner Donald Trump said. The Teflon Don, while speaking at a BBQ event in New Hampshire, claimed the deal wasn’t a “good” deal:
Now I have to see what the deal is for the four people. Because someone said they were getting seven back, so essentially they get 150 billion [dollars] plus seven, and we get four. Doesn’t sound too good, doesn’t sound too good but we have to see. I just heard about this an hour ago. And I am happy they are coming back, but it is a disgrace they have been there this long a total disgrace. Remember that a total disgrace.
If it sounds like both Rubio and Trump are stumbling and repeating themselves, it’s because they are. They’re trying — in vain — to find some way they can make Obama look bad. This is why you have Rubio repeatedly stating “they did nothing wrong” and making the B.S. claim it “incetivizes” groups to take hostages, and why Trump only mentions he’s happy they’re coming back once.
You know what? I’d rather terrorists take American hostages than kill them on sight. But Rubio seems to disagree, and who knows what Trump is getting at.
Ted Cruz, though, he knew exactly who to blame for this — God:
We have just gotten news that Pastor Saeed Abedini and three other Americans are apparently coming home from Iran. And I simply say praise God. Millions of us have been lifting up Pastor Saeed, have been lifting Amir Hekmati, have been lifting up Jason Rezaian. I hope he is among them, we have yet to get full details. But at this point we are simply giving prayers of thanksgiving that they’re coming home. Pastor Saeed’s wife Naghmeh is someone I’ve been blessed to get to know. She’s a wonderful woman. Their two little kids have been praying and longing for their daddy to come home for a long, long time. We don’t know the details of the deal that’s bringing them home and it may well be that there are some very problematic aspects to this deal. But at least this morning I am giving thanks that Pastor Saeed is coming home. It is far later than it should’ve been, but we will be glad to welcome him home with open arms.
If God is so great, why did he let them languish for so long? If if this the best your God can do, Cruz, in the words of Trump, he’s “a total disgrace.” And in the words of Rubio, the swaps should “never have happened.” After all, if anyone has the power to stop it, surely an omnipotent God does, right?
Of course, Cruz blamed God so he could get out having to admit Obama and the State Department did most of the heavy lifting here, but at least his disingenuous Jesus-babble is less toxic to American safety than the statements of either Rubio or Trump.
Watch Rubio’s statement below:
Feature image via composite