Yes We Can Pander!

Obama's Overlooked Cuba Speech

(Page 2 of 2)

Like Candidate Bush in 2000, Obama is still getting his foreign policy bearings, still trying to find that measured voice. When Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer interviewed him last year, Obama “had trouble naming any head of state south of the U.S. border, and looked like a deer in the headlights when asked about the region's headlines of the day." All that, says Oppenheimer, has changed—Obama “has finally done his homework on Latin America.”

But for those who desire the elimination of the embargo, we can only hope that, like his cynical denunciations of NAFTA, followed by reassurances to Canada that it was but a primary season pander, Obama is speaking with a forked tongue.

Michael C. Moynihan is an associate editor of reason.

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  • Other Matt||

    Obama pander? joe, say it ain't so!

  • 455||

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  • Guy Montag||

    Who is this 455 guy and why are you letting them spam every thread?

  • ed||

    Isn't an expose on political pandering like an expose on wet water or blue skies?
    We're so far gone ethically that it's no longer considered cynical to point this out.

  • Brandon||

    "Who is this 455 guy and why are you letting them spam every thread?"

    He's lonewacko's bastard lovechild.

  • ||

    I went to 455's blog and left a comment asking him to knock it off.

  • ||

    ... which was immediately deleted.

  • Colin||

    Don't worry -- Obama's just lying to those people to get their votes.

    As soon as he's elected, he'd kiss Castro's boots and declare undying fidelity to ideals of the great Revolution.

  • Guy Montag||

    Colin for the quick thread win!

    Castro's boots and declare undying fidelity

  • J||

    I disagree with Colin's point, but I love the way he said it.

  • ed||

    He was going to say raulity but that would be too subtle.

  • ||

    A politician makes policy statements that he will later ignore in order to pander to an audience..

    In other news, the sun rose in the east today.

  • ||

    But how does one relentlessly advocate for democracy without, say, irritating the likes of Hugo Chavez? As Obama said in Miami, the Bush administration's rhetoric has "so alienated [us] from the rest of the Americas" that extreme leftism "has even made inroads from Bolivia to Nicaragua."

    I think the model here is Ronald Reagan's Gorbachev-era combination of strong public statements and personal diplomacy.

  • Abdul||

    I think the model here is Ronald Reagan's Gorbachev-era combination of strong public statements and personal diplomacy.

    You forgot the third prong supporting anti-Communist wars wherever anti-communists could be found. Many of them were found in South and Central America and the dirty little wars that resulted were not highly thought of by the left.

  • ||

    But, Abdul, as it turned out, the "rollback" theory that revolved around supporting those dirty little wars had absolutely nothing to do with the end of the Soviet Union.

    The Soviet Empire fell in Berlin and Moscow, not in Havana or Managua. It wasn't "rolled back," it collapsed from the inside out. That's why the "outposts" are still there, and the empire itself gone.

    Containment, engagement, and patience while its own failures grew brought down the Soviet Union. All we did in backing those death squads was give the Soviets propaganda victories.

  • Abdul||

    Joe,

    I think you're wrong on two counts. First, Havana is the sole outpost. Nicaragua elected Violeta Chamorro, ousting the old communist Sandinistas. True, Ortega came back recently, but as some kind of Communist who found Jesus forming a coalition party with non-communists. He's definitely some shade of red, but I hardly think that counts as an outpost when there was a 16 year commie-free interim.

    Second--backing every dirty war did more than hand the Soviets propaganda victories (and it's not like the Soviet-backed side didn't hand us some share of those, too). It forced the Soviets to match our defense spending or lose influence. Our GDP could support that kind of expansion, theirs couldn't. It was part of Reagan and Don Regan's strategy.

  • Other Matt||

    You forgot the third prong supporting anti-Communist wars wherever anti-communists could be found. Many of them were found in South and Central America and the dirty little wars that resulted were not highly thought of by the left.

    Shame! Shame! Thou shalt not interrupt joe's Obama fellating excusatory bullshit! It's much to humorous to see what contortions and convolutions he'll go to to say it was all for nothing and Obama really didn't contradict himself and...hey, look, over there! A pony!

    People make the mistake of assuming the Soviet Union is a government. It's more like the mob. If you look at it and treat it such, it makes much more sense. It was somewhat less of a collapse than a turnover in mob families.

    All of which really has nothing to do with Chavez, where there's an Obamalike cult hero that says one thing and institutes socialism when elected, basically on the back of the people who want to get what they can from others (kinda eerie, but I digress). Economically, it's a Ponzi scheme, but he can pull it off for a while longer due to inflated oil prices making his asphalt laden crude suddenly economical to distill into gasoline.

    All in all, though, it has nothing to do with Obama's apparant reversal of thought, re:Cuba, based simply on who he was pandering to. That pretty much stands where it is, even joe ain't sayin it isn't so.

  • ||

    I agree, Abdul, that was the strategy, though we may disagree on how much the collapse of the Soviet Union can be attributed to it. Communism (and socialism) has natural economic failure built in to it, but our policies may have accelerated it. It's hard to say to what to degree, though.

  • ||

    Abdul,

    Sole outpost? North Korea, Vietnam, Laos? That they are still there, while Russia and Poland and "East Germany" are now republics, would seem to indicate that the empire wasn't rolled back, but toppled from within.

    It forced the Soviets to match our defense spending or lose influence. The dirty little wars in places like Central America cost the Soviets peanuts. The real economic/military race came in the form of ICBMs, air forces, ground forces, and other main-force military contests. A few crates of old AK-47s is not what bankrupted the Soviets.

    And, frankly, even that military spending contest was less important than the fact that the Soviet economic system didn't work very well. That's what really bankrupted the Warsaw Pact.

  • ||

    But, and this is what's important here, even as Reagan was both outspending the Soviets, and giving Berlin Wall speeches, he was also aggresively pursuing diplomacy with them.

    It was actually, in my view, one of the most remarkably acts of leadership in American history that Ronald Reagan, the great rollbacker and hater of detente, was able to recognize that the containment he denounced had worked, the end game was here, the collapse/reform it was meant to produce had come, and it was time to hold talks.

    Do you know what George Will wrote the day after Reagan and Gorbachev signed their deal in Iceland? "Yesterday will be remembered as the day the United States lost the Cold War."

  • ||

    Do you know what George Will wrote the day after Reagan and Gorbachev signed their deal in Iceland? "Yesterday will be remembered as the day the United States lost the Cold War."

    I refuse to believe that. It is possible that an alien projecting a George Will holographic appearance wrote that, but the man himself could never have been that wrong.

  • ||

    Well, Chris, it's the old "talking is appeasement, diplomacy is surrender" ideology that's so prevalent on the right.

  • ||

    Well, Chris, it's the old "talking is appeasement, diplomacy is surrender" ideology that's so prevalent on the right.

    I also agree that it is prevalent on the right, but not necessarily because "people on the right are stupid and people on the left are smart." It is more likely a common thought because of debacles like Israeli/Palestinian "peace" treaties and, yes, things like the Munich Agreement. It is wrongheaded to think that you should never negotiate, but that doesn't mean you should always negotiate. Reagan was right to negotiate with Gorbachev.

  • ||

    There have never been any Israeli/Palestinian peace treaties.

    There was an Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty. And and Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.

  • Joe Mawmah||

    Obama, McCain, Duhbya...same old same old.

  • ||

    I'm still chuckling over the phrase that Moynihan pulled off of a HuffPo blog: "the embargo-industrial complex." So there's a large association of industries who are in the business of not doing business with Cuba? Doesn't sound very profitable to me.

    It gets me every time some lefty complains about how Cuba is hurt by the embargo (often mislabeled a "blockade"). Hello, according to communist theory, isn't the embargo good for Cuba, because it prevents the evil US capitalists from exploiting them? Their position boils down to: "Cubans are poor under communism because the capitalists can't practice enough capitalism with them." That's a statement most of us around here would agree with, but it also means there's no justification for Castro's regime.

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    As Obama said in Miami, the Bush administration's rhetoric has "so alienated [us] from the rest of the Americas" that extreme leftism "has even made inroads from Bolivia to Nicaragua."

    ***

    Why would an extreme leftist like Obama, be upset over the extreme leftism making inroads from Bolivia to Nicaragua?

  • ||

    Because Obama isn't "an extreme leftist"?

    I realize it warms the prickles of your little heart to throw "extreme leftist" at anyone left of Genghis Khan, but what you want to believe isn't especially so. It's an incredibly dumb form of argument as well--"leftist" and "rightist" only makes sense once you define "left" and "right" in relation to WHAT. I'd stop using the terms altogether.

  • ||

    Sheesh, grumpy, how about we define "left" and "right" in relation to the center of American politics, the way most people do? It's imprecise shorthand, granted, but it's more or less what we have.

  • ||

    Obama would end the embargo. But not because he likes free trade or wants to liberate Cuba. He doesn't think of Cuba as needing liberation.

    Not really; the Communists are just old-fashioned reformers, well-meaning but heavy-handed, whose methods are obsolete and who need to retire.

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