During an appearance at the Texas GOP convention on Friday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) decided to make a little topical joke about the recent release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Bergdahl was recently freed from nearly five years of captivity by the Taliban and was the last American prisoner of war. To secure Bergdahl’s release, the White House agreed to release five detainees from the prison at Guantanamo Bay. The released prisoners, who are members of the Taliban, will be forced to spend one year in Qatar before being allowed to move elsewhere in the world.
Paul joked with the crowd that instead of sending five Taliban prisoners over to rescue an imprisoned soldier, perhaps we should send over five Democrats. He then started naming who we should send over.
“Mr. President, you love to trade people. Why don’t we set up a trade? But this time, instead of five Taliban, how about five Democrats? I’m thinking John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi …”
As you can see from the video above, he wasn’t able to name all five Dems he’d trade, as the crowd started cheering over him. His staff was obviously super impressed with this joke, as shortly afterward, the following tweet was sent from his Senate office’s Twitter account:
“Mr. President, let’s set up a new trade. Instead of 5 Taliban, let’s trade 5 Democrats!” #RPTCon14
— Senator Rand Paul (@SenRandPaul) June 6, 2014
Hardy har har.
Now, it is one thing to joke around a bit and get a cheap laugh at the other side’s expense. You see that all the time in politics. However, this joke is in such poor taste, on so many levels, that I hardly know where to begin. First off, he is trying to score points with the base by poking fun at a situation that was obviously horrific and extremely traumatic for Sgt. Bergdahl. Second, Paul referenced a Marine, Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, who is currently imprisoned in Mexico for illegally bringing guns over the border. He stated that delegates told him that Tahmooressi is someone we should be trying to bring home. In essence, Paul is stating the two soldiers’ situations are the same, but not enough has been done to bring Tahmooressi home. This has been a meme that’s been gaining traction with conservatives.
However, comparing the two situations is ridiculous, at best. Tahmooressi broke the law of a neighboring country that we are currently not at war with. Tahmooressi crossed the border with three guns and 400 rounds of ammunition. None of the guns were locked away. They were sitting out in his car and loaded. He has been in a Mexican prison for a total of two months. It is likely that Mexico will release the soldier back to the United States in a short amount of time. Secretary of State John Kerry has already discussed this situation with Mexico. Tahmooressi has also been able to make phone calls and even do interviews with Fox News and CNN. Not nearly equal to a soldier held by an enemy combatant as a prisoner of war for five years. But, you know, Republican logic.
Paul is considered one of the GOP frontrunners in the 2016 Presidential race. And this is the level of discourse he brings to the table. His level of ‘humor’ is to point to well-known Democrats, in front of a rabid base of ultra-right-wingers, and claim that we should just ship them out of the country. Basically, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi are equivalent to enemies of the state and should be treated as such.
I guess this is where we’re at now in the whole Bergdahl affair. A GOP Presidential hopeful using Bergdahl as the lead-in to a joke in order to smear the President, the likely 2016 Democratic nominee for President and other notable Democrats. I fear this is going to get worse and that we have yet to see rock-bottom. Honestly, every time you think Republicans can’t get worse, they turn around and surprise you.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).