President Obama: Why Should Washington Stand In the Way of the American People?

Arguably the best rhetorical question the president's ever asked.


White House

Today, President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would re-open embassies in each other's countries. The move has been months in the making, ever since President Obama first announced steps toward normalizing relations last December. Since then, some travel and trade restrictions have been lifted, and in April the U.S. removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. In remarks he made at the Rose Garden this morning, President Obama called on Congress to repeal the embargo laws that have been on the books for decades.

A portion of his comments:

Here in the United States, we've seen that same enthusiasm [for normalizing relations as the rest of the Americas have seen].  There are Americans who want to travel to Cuba and American businesses who want to invest in Cuba.  American colleges and universities that want to partner with Cuba.  Above all, Americans who want to get to know their neighbors to the south. And through that engagement, we can also help the Cuban people improve their own lives.  One Cuban American looked forward to "reuniting families and opening lines of communications."  Another put it bluntly:  "You can't hold the future of Cuba hostage to what happened in the past." 

And that's what this is about: a choice between the future and the past.  

Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward.  I believe it's time for Congress to do the same.  I've called on Congress to take steps to lift the embargo that prevents Americans from travelling or doing business in Cuba.  We've already seen members from both parties begin that work.  After all, why should Washington stand in the way of our own people? 

President Obama is absolutely right, why should Washington stand in the way of the American people? But traveling to Cuba and trading with Cubans aren't the only things some Americans would like to do but can't because of laws restricting the freedom of Americans on the books. President Obama's question should be asked by him, his successor, and every politician in Washington every time one of them proposes a new rule imposing limits on the non-violent activities of Americans.

Watch the entirety of the president's comments below:

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  1. I am not arguing against lifting sanctions. However, “You can’t hold the future of Cuba hostage to what happened in the past.” It isn’t about the past dipshit. They are essentially doing the same thing now that have done since Castro took power. Oh they pretty it up a bit, and of course the health care tourism is great (shame no actual Cuban except the party elite can get that kind of healthcare). But it is still the same people in charge.

  2. Strange that it only gets asked when it’s to what he thinks is the benefit of a Communist regime.

    Well, not that strange.

    1. Well, not that strange.

      Is there a latin prefix that means ironic or strictly nominally? Like, it’s ‘anti-strange’ for the most ‘anti-transparent’ to do this when firming up relations with a Communist regime.

  3. A new pool of potential D voters?

    If cubans are free to leave their island prison and travel to the US I imagine there will be a flood.

    1. Ding!

    2. Already happened. Read up on the Mariel Boatlift.

  4. This just in: Obama is a hypocrite

    The world is shocked

  5. After all, why should Washington stand in the way of our own people?

    Complete and utter absence of self-awareness. Possibly even lacking sentience. It’s a wonder he didn’t promptly disappear in a puff of logic.

    1. “It’s a wonder he didn’t promptly disappear in a puff of logic.”

      I’d say it’s more of a shame.

  6. After all, why should Washington stand in the way of our own people?

    Oh there are sooooo many possibilities that this could be applied too, need a reasonably sized hashtag for this….

    1. #FYTW.

  7. Leaving aside the laughable nature of this comment from this president…..while I’m fine with lifting the embargo, you’re still an asshole if you go vacation in Cuba while Raul Castro is still running things. It should be your decision to make, not the federal government’s…..but yeah, you’re an asshole.

    1. Why? (Honest question.)

      Unless doing so would only benefit the elite.

      1. Poor people need to stay poor to punish wealthy communist, or something like that.

        1. The Chinese regime is arguably just as awful and I didn’t feel like an asshole when I toured there in 2001. Should I have?

          1. Apples and oranges. For all the horrible things the PRC does, it does in fact allow entrepreneurship. The money spent there will actually benefit ordinary Chinese as well as the repulsive PRC regime. That’s not the case in Cuba.

            Vietnam is still a rotten state in many ways, but I’d love to go there someday. It’s actually a rather free market over there.

            1. China has likely done worse things in recent years than Cuba has; “allowing entrepreneurship” doesn’t make up for that.

              And no, travelling to China does not make one an asshole, nor does travelling to Cuba, anymore than buying a Ford makes one responsible for all the car accidents Fords have caused.

          2. China is horrible, but when you spend money there it likely doesn’t all go directly to t he government. Cuba is different. Every dine that will be spent there will go to t he government. None of it will benefit Cubans. Do you think the Castros are going to pay the workers at those hotels anything? No. They will pay them the national wage, which is nothing, and pocket the rest of the money or use it to fund the police state.

            1. Boycotting countries and keeping them insulated from the rest of the world generally makes things worse, not better. North Korea being a case in point.

              Remember, China wasn’t always like that; it was far worse when Nixon opened relations with it. But decades of foreign trade have liberalized it; same thing will happen with Cuba, while boycotting it would probably have the opposite effect.

              1. True…. but the thousands of Cubans who had their hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, homes, etc. stolen and subsequently fled to Florida are still pissed.

                They’ll die off soon, so the political dynamic that results from their active citizenship will change.

        2. Spending money in Cuba does absolutely nothing to make Cubans not poor. That money is pocketing by the repulsive Castro regime, which then doles it out to their subjects at the rate of 67 cents per day. For example, the company that’s contracted by the Cuban government to administer those nice tourist hotels pays wages of around $10/hour per employee……but they don’t actually pay the employee. They pay the Cuban government, who then pays the $20 per month maximum wage and keeps the difference. The policia hunting through people’s houses for illicit chickens and fruit don’t pay for themselves, y’know!

          If Cubans were allowed to profit from their own labor, I’d be all for going there. I have no interest in spending my money to prop up the Castros at the expense of the poor average Cuban.

          1. Exactly that. Anyone who goes down there and spends money thinking it is going to do anything but line Castro’s pocket and fund the oppression of the Cuban people is a chump. so, expect the entire Reason staff to be vacationing in Cuba next year in the name of FREEDOM.

            1. Yeah. Cuba is essentially a nationalized truck system, complete with company scrip and company store. It’s a shame most of the people lobbying for free trade with Cuba don’t understand how the actual economy of Cuba works.

          2. Send Kshama Sawant over, Seattle, they’ll be at 15 bucks an hour in no time.

  8. No Ed. You missed the rest of the quote that was understood by his supporters and didn’t have to be said. What Obama said was

    Why should Washington stand in the way of the American people when they WANT TO DO EXACTLY WHAT WASHINGTON WANTS THEM TO DO?

    There you go Ed. That should clear up any confusion you have and any false consciousness that the party actually believes in freedom.

    1. I think some normalization of relations with Cuba is fine, though we need to understand that they’re still assholes, especially to their own people. But it amazes me how Obama can do something that’s generally okay and still do it in such a way as to make it seem like a terrible idea. He’s like the reverse of Reagan. Of course, with his total lack of credibility and honesty, he’s more Great Prevaricator than Great Communicator.

      1. I think this should have been done years if not decades ago. We deal with horrible regimes around the world – Cuba was hardly uniquely awful.

        1. Agreed. It made some sense, maybe, when they were a Soviet client state. That ended decades ago.

      2. It is because he is an asshole and even when he does something you like he does in a way where he shows you how he thinks he is doing you a favor and how grateful you should be for that. So even if it is the right thing, you still hate him for it.

        1. Christ on a stick you people are downright pathological. What miserable pieces of shit you are.

          1. And you like gerbils up your ass, I’m guessing, eh Tulpy?

  9. Why should America change? Cuba’s the one who sucks.

  10. So do the exiles get their property back?

      1. I dunno, I think I’d file a claim with the American embassy in Havana.

        On the flip side, our lease for Guantanamo ended a while back. Are we going to honor that now?

        1. Look a lot of that property was owned by corporations…CORPORATIONS, do you really want to steal from the people of Cuba so some American fat cat can buy another helicopter?!? DO YOU?!?

        2. So that’s what Obama meant by “closing Guantanamo”!


      1. Fifty four forty or fight!

  11. Watch the entirety of the president’s comments below:

    I can’t bring myself to do that just now.

    Would someone *kindly* provide a trigger warning as to whether he said something to the effect of “After fifty years, if something is not working, it’s time to try something new”?

  12. But traveling to Cuba and trading with Cubans aren’t the only things some Americans would like to do but can’t because of laws restricting the freedom of Americans on the books.

    Polygamous husbandry? [ducks]

    At least now, lefties won’t be able to piss and moan about how the poor economic performance of Cuba is due to the embargo (even though they’ve been able to trade with the entire rest of the planet the entire time).

    1. It will just be bad luck when all of their vacationing and frequenting of teenage whores just lines the pocket of the police state. They meant well and so do the Castros JW. It is not their fault if things don’t get better.

      1. Well, I dunno. The teenage whores will probably be charging cash. They may actually benefit the most from this.

        1. I’m pretty sure the government takes their cash as well.

  13. Why should Washington stand in the way of “our own people” who don’t want to buy Obamacare health insurance?

  14. “After all, why should Washington stand in the way of our own people? ”

    This has to be in the running for the most un-self-aware comment ever.

  15. Obama – I would like to smoke some reefer in the privacy of my own home without fear that your thugs from the DEA would come stomping through my door to arrest and jail me.

    End your racist and un Constitutional war on drugs.

    You are a hypocrite of the highest order since you smoked the doobie in your youth with your choom bros while listening to the Rick James jam Mary Jane.

  16. “President Obama is absolutely right, why should Washington stand in the way of the American people? ”

    Why should the government prevent the American people from propping up a slave state?

    Gee, I dunno, what’s not to like?

  17. Only Reason would devote a page to one of Obama’s rhetorical questions.

  18. Huh, one of the few things Obama thinks the government should not stand in the way of the American people is…

    …going to a communist hellhole!

    1. I nominate this for Thread Winner.

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