President Obama is either a limp-wristed weakling, or he’s a controlled, purposeful man of action who fully intends to humiliate America on the world stage. Either way, Cuba’s henchmen have to be smiling today after Obama abased himself and his country before the tinpot dictatorship of the Castro brothers.
Sitting beside stand-in strongman Raul Castro, Obama listened patiently as Castro explained that women and men receive the same pay for the same work in Cuba (namely: nearly nothing), denied the presence of political prisoners in Cuba (there are thousands in jail), and lectured the United States for its shortcomings on race. “We defend human rights,” Castro blustered on the same day that his jackboots locked up his political adversaries. “In our view, civil, political, economic, and social rights are indivisible, interdependent and universal. Actually, we find it inconceivable that a government does not defend and ensure the right to health care, any patient, social security, food provision and development, equal pay and the rights of children.” Castro went on to demand the turnover of Guantanamo Bay and the end of the American trade embargo with the island nation.
Somewhere, Michael Moore grinned. In the room, Obama looked on peacefully.
Then, when it came time for Obama to respond, he promptly rolled over so that Castro could rub his tummy:
[President Castro I think has pointed out that] in his view making sure everybody’s getting a decent education or health care, has basic security in old age, that those things are human rights as well. I personally would not disagree with that. But it doesn’t detract from some of these other concerns. The goal of the human rights dialogue is not for the United States to dictate to Cuba how they should govern themselves but to make sure that we are having a frank and candid conversation around this issue. And hopefully that we can learn from each other. It does not mean it has to be the only issue we talk about. Economics, health, scientific exchanges, international cooperation on issues of regional as well as global import are also important. But this is something we are going to stay on. And you know I actually welcome president Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels we’re falling short because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well.
Finally, Obama struck back…against Congress. “Congress is not as productive as I would like,” Obama told the dictator while sitting on foreign soil.
So there it is: a dictator lectures Americans on their lack of freedom, while the American leader sits there and lectures Congress, rear-burnering human rights critiques of one of the most egregious human rights violators of the last several decades.
Obama isn’t just doing this for show. He actually agrees with Castro. He sees Castro as a bit too heavyhanded, but his vision for the world is correct, in Obama’s view: a world of leveling, of government interventionism, of executive authority tempered only by revolutionary ideology.
America was designed to oppose such evils. And the American system blunders along sufficiently well to blunt the full impact of Obama’s sword thrust at its innards. But Obama in Cuba is a man unbound, free to say what he wishes. And what he wishes looks a lot more like Cuba than like Texas.