Too bad Paul Whelan is not black or gay or someone who openly hates America. Too bad he’s white, male and a former U.S. Marine.
Otherwise, he would not still be rotting in jail in Russia on trumped-up espionage charges.
Also otherwise, Whelan would have been the American prisoner in Russia who was exchanged this week by the Biden administration for Viktor Bout, aka “The Merchant of Death.”
But instead of Whelan, it was black lesbian WNBA star Brittney Griner who was swapped, one-for-one, for Bout – the notorious international arms dealer who on “60 Minutes” was called one of the most dangerous men on the planet.
Griner was arrested for the low-level crime of carrying vape cartridges with cannabis oil into Russia.
Bout is a world-class bad guy, a certified killer.
He supplied Al Qaeda, the Taliban, rebels in Rwanda and other terrorists around the world with plane loads of AK-47s and other military equipment that have been used to kill Americans and thousands of other people.
Trading Griner for Bout with Whelan left to rot in Moscow? That will surely go down as one of the worst trades in American history.
It’s no surprise that such a lopsided swap was made by the Biden administration, but actually it doesn’t have Joe’s personal fingerprints on it.
Griner-for-Bout is further proof that he is not the one who’s calling the shots in his own administration.
Detaining Griner for almost 300 days and sentencing her to nine years in a penal colony was an injustice that never should have happened. And I’m glad she’s flying home.
But what Team Biden did to spring her was not just dumb, amateurish diplomacy, it was an act of pure leftwing, wokester politics.
It was Biden’s latest bit of pandering to black and gay communities for their votes and money – which he knows he already has in his pocket.
Politically, giving away a major prisoner like Bout to get a minor leaguer like Griner was a dumb move in the long run.
Biden angered more than half of the country – the red half, which includes many Democrats and independents, who see the obvious injustice of freeing a pot user who wouldn’t stand for the National Anthem but not freeing an America-loving ex-military man who was unjustly accused of espionage.
Whelan has been imprisoned by Putin’s regime for four years and has eight more to go. Biden says he’s praying for Whelan’s release, which is total bull.
His sorry excuse for a press spokesperson, Karine Jean-Pierre, said on Thursday, “The president will never stop working to secure Paul Whelan’s release.”
But then she gave away the thinking of the backstage people who are really in control of the White House when she added, “On a personal note, Brittney is an important role model, an inspiration to millions of Americans particularly the LGBTQI+ Americans and women of color.”
Some in the Whelan family are praising the Biden administration for making the swap, saying it was smart to take the only deal that was possible.
Not slamming Biden is a smart move for them, since it’s only Biden who can bring their son home.
But Whelan himself told CNN he is “greatly disappointed” that more hasn’t been done to secure his release for four years and doesn’t “understand why I’m still sitting here.”
I know it’s complicated.
I know Griner’s plight got constant publicity, sympathy and support from the major media and activist gay groups.
I know that since 2018 there should have been more calls for Whelan’s release from Republicans and conservative media.
But I can’t get it out of my head that the president of the United States traded a killer for a basketball player and left one of our ex-soldiers behind.
I guess that’s what you’d expect from a president who doesn’t have the military’s back – or America’s.