First spotted by USA Today reporter Gregory Korte, the key bit is at the very end of the clip below. No wonder they had a meeting of the minds: Castro and The One are both fans of rule by decree. When I first saw Korte’s tweet, I thought Castro was bringing up executive action on his own initiative, maybe as a way to tweak the Republicans in Congress whom he well knows will try to block normalization with the U.S. “Make ’em cry again, Barack,” he seemed to be saying, “just like you did last month on illegal immigration.”
But I don’t think that’s what happened. What actually happened is worse: I think Obama has quietly promised this turd, as an inducement to their deal, that he’ll use executive action to lift the embargo as much as he can if, as expected, Republicans resist.
A full end to the US trade embargo of Cuba would require legislation in Congress, something for which there has been virtually no appetite until now, but the White House hopes that by using a series of executive actions to minimise its enforcement, it can provide a breakthrough that will encourage political reform in Cuba and soften political opposition in the US.
“We recognise that some members of Congress will strongly disagree with what the president is announcing today, but this will be an ongoing dialogue … We believe a policy of engagement will be more effective.”
“It is clear that decades of US isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our enduring objective of promoting the emergence of a democratic, prosperous, and stable Cuba,” added the press secretary, Josh Earnest, in a written statement.
Americans just handed Republicans a majority in the Senate and the most House seats they’ve had in 60 years, and Obama’s response is to do a deal with the Castro boys which he knows the GOP will hate and then immediately set to work undermining their constitutional power to stop it. Which makes sense in Obama logic: The more likely Congress is to oppose him, why, the more imperative it is that he act unilaterally and ignore them. That’s precisely the reasoning that got slapped down in yesterday’s court ruling finding his executive amnesty unconstitutional, but it serves his ends so it’s full speed ahead. Don’t believe the nonsense either about using executive orders to “minimize” enforcement, which makes it sound like O will merely be nibbling at the edges of the embargo by clearing the way for Cuban cigars or whatever. He used to say things like that about amnesty too — there might be minor measures to relax deportations that I can take with executive orders, he’d tell amnesty shills, but any large-scale legalization would be up to Congress, not me. A year or two later, he’s on TV handing down decrees legalizing five million illegals. I figure we’ll see the same basic progression with Cuba:
January 2015: Obama says he lacks authority to lift the Cuba embargo
July 2015: Obama says Cuba must act to lift the Cuba embargo and that failure to act might force him to act
November 2015: Obama says he’s lifting the embargo
The embargo is similar to amnesty in an important way: Just as polling suggests most Americans are open to some form of legalization for illegals, it also suggests that Americans are tired of sanctions on Cuba. It would be dangerous for Obama to usurp Congress’s authority on a matter where the public is strongly against him, but by picking issues where he has reason to think they’ll tolerate the outcome he favors, he blunts public opposition to his power grabs. Executive action on the embargo is likely to produce the same result as executive action on amnesty — Republicans may howl, but as Americans accept the new policy as the status quo, a GOP successor to O will think twice before undoing it. Which is not to say that congressional Republicans should merely go along here. On the contrary, I think Joel Pollak‘s right that if Obama makes an illegal move to lift the embargo unilaterally, McConnell should bottle up his presidential nominees across the board. We must, must return to normal constitutional order before this precedent of presidential authoritarianism gets worse than it already is.
In case you’re wondering, by the way, the left naturally loves this deal with Cuba — and when I say “loves,” I mean loves.
The only gray lining in the silver cloud is the fact that ugly materialistic Americans will soon be despoiling the paradise that the Castros have built. Reason enough for lefties to oppose Obama in lifting the embargo, right?