The late Jorge Más Canosa, founder and chairman of the Cuban-American National Foundation, courted Bill Clinton with disastrous consequences for the Cuban people. Now his son and successor, Más Santos, whose lobbying group was excluded from participation in the "Aid to Cuba" piñata, has cast his lot with Barack Obama, who will, presumably, give CANF a better shake. The fact Obama was invited to address it is more than just an olive branch extended to him. It indicates that CANF does not consider his views on Cuba outside the mainstream of American politics, which, given what his views are, is nothing less than an endorsement of him.
This move also indicates just how desperate CANF is to seem relevant again and hear itself described once more in the MSM as "the most powerful/influential Cuban exile organization," which CANF has not been in any appreciable degree since the schism that followed Más Canosa's death. The old guard, unhappy with CANF's new openness to engaging in dialogue with the Castro regime, accused it of betraying Más Canosa's legacy and formed their own group the Cuban Liberty Council. With the so-called "hardliners" gone, an alliance of convenience between CANF and Obama is, therefore, not as bizarre as it may sound if anything is really bizarre in politics.
If Obama had simply espoused the "necessity"of engaging the Castro regime directly and left out the part about doing so "without preconditions" there would have been no difference between his position and CANF's. In fact, if Obama had substituted "with everything on the table" for "without prior conditions" (the former being only a more diplomatic way of saying the same thing) not only would there have been no difference but CANF might even have felt comfortable acknowledging that fact. This does not mean, of course, that Obama's position is in the mainstream; but, rather, that CANF is no longer a mainstream exile organization.
No American politician in the last 50 years, at least no successful politician, has espoused complete capitulation to the Castro regime as the best way to "engage" it. Forget about capitulation: negotiation with Castro, in any form, was once considered beyond the pale of acceptable discourse, though all American presidents, including Reagan, sent emissaries to him sub rosa to sound him out with predictable results. Jerry Ford came the closest of any U.S. presidents to accommodating Castro. He was only one week from announcing the resumption of ties with Communist Cuba when Castro's mercenary legions invaded Angola. It seems that Ford forgot to make not undertaking wars of aggression against other countries in the Third World one of the pre-conditions for establishing diplomatic relations.
Obama will not make the same mistake. In negotiating with Castro, "President" Obama will make no demand that Castro might reject. Where no concessions are extracted, none may be expected. That's OK with Obama, too. He is only interested in succeeding and doesn't care whether it's on Castro's terms or not. And, Raúl, of course, will try to make it as painless as possible for Obama. Not by implementing any kind of liberalization or meaningful reforms, of course. He will, however, hand over to Obama the 230 political prisoners which human rights organizations have formally annointed as such and as many of the other 230,000 in his jails as Obama may want (we don't think he'll want any more). Then it's a done deal. Fifty years Fidel has waited and now, tottering on the brink of the grave, victory will finally be his. Castro always expected that the U.S. would surrender unconditionally to him and it will if Barack Obama is elected president.
Let this be a lesson to all tyrants: Never capitulate, run down the clock, and eventually an American president wholly ignorant of history and in collusion with America's enemies, will come to your rescue, and postpone for 50 years, or indefinitely, the re-birth of freedom and democracy in your country. Fidel Castro was fortunate enough to have had one such president in his lifetime (JFK). He may actually live to see another.
In his speech, Obama made a few passing references to Cuba concealed in a surplusage of verbiage covering topics from FDR's "Four Freedoms" to the effect of youth gangs in Central America. What no one seems to have noticed is that Obama did not mention Fidel Castro in his speech as if he and his crimes had already passed into history. This omission spared him having to address Fidel as "former president" or dictator, "onetime leader" or tyrant. It also eliminated the possibility that his audience would manifest their disapproval when he uttered his name. He certainly wouldn't want to provide an occasion of his public embarrassment.
When Obama spoke of "tyranny," it was the "tyranny of oil" that he lambasted, not the Castro tyranny. And when he attacked a dictator, it was Hugo Chávez, not Fidel Castro. While accrediting Hugo Chávez's last election as "democratic [!]," Obama said that he was a "demagogue," an "authoritarian" and "perilous." He did not say the same thing about the Castros. Before an audience of more or less anti-Castro Cubans, Obama did not feel right joining in the anti-Castro "bashing" by calling a spade a spade. Besides, Obama can afford to beat up a little on Chávez. He doesn't have to restore diplomatic or economic relations with Venezuela. Hugo is good to go: Obama can attack him without hurting him. If attacking him can provide the necessary cover not to attack Castro, he is more than ready to make an "example" of Chávez.
What exactly did Obama say about Cuba?
Exactly what he had said before.
He will "stand up for freedom in Cuba" by enabling tyranny there.
Obama's real concern is to make Communism work in Cuba as it does in China, that is, work in America's interest. The repression of the Tibetans shows that the Communist Chinese have no respect for human rights and that nothing has changed in China except that it is financially more viable. The tyranny now stands on firmer ground and is better equipped to perpetuate itself into infinity. It is precisely such a "space" which Obama hopes to create for Stalinism in Cuba.
Obama assured his listeners that he wouldn't just fly to Havana the day after his inauguration. There would be some preliminary arrangements before he met with Raúl. Future Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America and Castro's onetime lawyer, Greg Craig, will iron out the details of this latter-day Munich. The preparations might take some time, he hinted. But Obama left no doubt whatever that he intends to do precisely what he has said he would do and in exactly the manner he has stipulated -- without prior conditions. He is determined to be the "hostess with the mostest" to all the world's tyrants, not just Raúl. He is going to render them harmless like a snake charmer. After all, charm has carried him a long way. He is on the verge of becoming president of the United States on the strength of it and nothing else.
Which makes the defeat of Obama all the more imperative if Cuba is ever to be free again.
There's a very good deconstruction of Obama's speech at Babalú by his onetime booster Henry Gómez and even some grudging praise elsewhere for McCain's position on Cuba. I am tempted to charge Henry with gross inconsistency, but I will let it pass since he now appears to be going in the right direction. I wonder if Ros-Lehtinen, McCain's earliest supporter, boxed Henry's ears at Cuba Nostalgia? If she did, good for her. That's also the first time I've praised her in ages.