The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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June 7, 2014

Maybe swap should have been Congress for Bergdahl

- — One thing about politics, some things get beat to death for party reasons, while other more important things are pushed aside. I use the term “beat to death” for good reason.

I say this after the constant clamoring about the foreign attack that killed four Americans. Republicans constantly bring this up as they push their agenda in putting heat on probable Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

And Democrats are no better. They will hammer on the same subjects over and over if they feel it can hurt a Republican’s chances in any national office.

OK, the death of four people is tragic. But what about even more deaths that occur so many times in this country because politicians of both parties are afraid to tighten gun laws?

So we have innocent children dying in school shootings. We have people gunned down in movie theaters or malls or college campuses.

These things get a short mention in the news, but then the furor dies down quickly and many of our Washington politicians don’t mention it again, even though far more than four people were killed in some of these instances.

That’s because the NRA is a powerful lobbying group that scares some politicians. So while politicos will clamor about deaths in a foreign land – where the people actually knew they were at risk – they don’t seem to care much that little kids who were just heading for another day at school would be viciously murdered by some psycho.

OK, maybe the NRA does a few good things. But how in the world would anyone not want to help tighten laws that restrict mentally ill people from obtaining guns? In some of these mass murders in the United States, it was made clear later that the shooters were mentally disturbed.

And yet they were easily able to buy guns and ammunition.

Surveys show that a vast majority of Americans have lost faith in their government. And for good reason. When playing political games is more important than saving lives of people, how can we trust any of them in Washington?

And of course another political game is the prisoner exchange of five Taliban officials from Gitmo for American Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl who was held captive in Afghanistan.

Both Democrats and Republicans are spinning things for political purposes.

My son asked me the other day if we should have made the exchange. And I answered a definitive “no.”

I don’t believe in dealing with terrorists who hold Americans hostage. But who knows if he really was a hostage, since some of his former Army mates bill him as a deserter or even a traitor.

The U.S. Security Council voted unanimously to make the exchange, which was kept secret from Congress. Different reasons were given why Congress didn’t get a required 30 days notice.

I don’t have the answers to that, because anytime the CIA is involved in something, nobody really gets the real answers. Could they have pushed for Bergdahl’s release because they felt he had secrets concerning the Taliban?

Nobody knows much right now. Well, not much other than both Republicans and Democrats will try to properly spin it to make it appear that their side is right.

I think if the American people had a vote on this one, instead of exchanging the Taliban officials for Bergdahl, we would have traded them the United States Congress.

Now that would be an exchange I would favor.

The Herald’s Lynn Saternow writes this column each Saturday for the Opinion Page. He can be reached at

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