A pitiful statement from the White House. (Or, if you prefer, “pathetic.”) The defense will be that Obama worked too hard on rapprochement to blow it now with a harsh condemnation that might antagonize Raul, but all that does is confirm the worst fears of opponents of the policy. The price of reconciliation with illiberal regimes tends to be willful blindness towards their abuses. Here’s Obama covering his eyes:
At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans – in Cuba and in the United States – with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.
For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements. During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends – bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba.
Today, we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America.
That’s what a whitewash looks like. In particular, the exsanguinated line about Castro evoking unspecified “powerful emotions” in people feels like something you’d say about a controversial performer, as if Castro were Kanye West or Madonna circa 1990. If Obama couldn’t bring himself to say something critical, he would have been better off issuing a one- or two-line statement simply offering condolences to the family — and to Fidel’s victims for their own losses — and saying something vague about how he hopes this will be the beginning of a new age of freedom and prosperity for the Cuban people.
Now here’s Trump’s statement, with eyes open:
Trump releases statement on death of Fidel Castro –> pic.twitter.com/Df7fqfY7mq
— Katherine Faulders (@KFaulders) November 26, 2016
Much better. Trump and his team understand something that Obama seems not to: The U.S. holds the leverage in its reconciliation with Cuba, not vice versa. Raul wasn’t going to pull the plug on millions of dollars in new investments from American businesses that are flowing into the island if the White House had put something out this morning acknowledging in polite, diplomatic terms that Fidel was a degenerate. I think Trump will end up keeping Obama’s policy of rapprochement in place. He’s just not going to flatter the Castro family’s pretensions about what Fidel was in order to do it.
The best thing you can say about Obama’s statement is that it was no worse than neutral towards Castro, which makes it far superior to some of the bilge put out this morning by other left-wing world leaders. In particular, the releases issued today by Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn will give you explosive diarrhea. Read them only if you’ve been irregular lately.
Update: Somehow I missed this fulsome tribute from Irish President Michael D. Higgins. One word: Imodium.
Update: A pleasant surprise from, of all people, Nancy Pelosi.
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) November 26, 2016