Politics & Policy

It’s Official: Elián Case Was About Rule of Power

Law had nothing to do with it.

It’s difficult to write about Elián González these days without sounding like a crank. After all, the forces of truth and light have lost and the Clintonites have won. By complaining about such things one runs the risk of sounding like one of these mean-spirited conservatives that we read so much about in the New York Times and the Washington Post. You know, these puppy-kicking Neanderthals who just can’t come to grips with the fact that Clinton was elected, FDR got away with Yalta, the water got fluoridated, Nixon resigned, etc., etc.

Fortunately, being considered a crank would be a huge step up for my public reputation, so I don’t care too much about that. But there are other problems. In short, there’s not much left to be said, and there’s no one left to persuade. Almost every angle’s been covered and the American people just don’t care. So, Elián will go back to Cuba and everyone will be happy and peppy and bursting with love (what’s that from?).

Then, when Elián comes back to the United States in fifteen years or so, either on a raft — if Castro’s alive — or on an American Airlines daily nonstop — if he’s dead — and says “Why did you send me back there?” Americans in huge majorities will say they were against it at the time, etc. Indeed, this reveals the key reason why Bill Clinton will go down in history as a mediocre President. People don’t remember the back story or context of a decision, they only remember the decision.

George Bush was always ahead of, or against, public opinion on the Gulf War, and that’s why it will go down as a great accomplishment. Bill Clinton walks around with a broom behind the elephant and calls it leadership. A decade from now, he won’t be able to say “Well, the American people supported me,” as an excuse for why he went down in history as a caretaker president.

Nevertheless, it is nice for scorekeeping purposes to see that the 11th circuit court exposed the essential lie of the Clinton administration’s handling of Elián. Throughout the whole saga, Clinton insisted that he was upholding “the rule of law.” In public, he used the phrase “rule of law” as often as he says, “can I get extra fries with that?” in private. But the Court ruled quite unequivocally that sending Elián back to Cuba was nothing more than a policy preference. “It has been suggested that the precise policy adopted by the INS in this case was required by ‘law,’” wrote the Judges. “That characterization of this case, however, is inaccurate.” The government of the United States decided to send Elián back to Cuba. Its hands were never tied, the “rule of law” was never the issue. They could have gone the other way, they just didn’t want to. But, saying it was about the law, they gave voters the opportunity to say “Well, my opinion doesn’t matter, this is about the law.”

By insisting that it was out of their hands (like Steve Guttenberg in Diner) the administration not only lied, they miseducated the public on what the rule of law means. Those on both Left and Right who believe that sending Elián back to Cuba was the right thing to do should at least ask themselves why the president didn’t have the courage to admit what he was doing. If it’s the right thing, why not take credit for doing the right thing?

There is one last little lie that I’d like to address. For some reason, the Left doesn’t care very much about brainwashing and oppression so long as they agree with the content of the brainwashing and the oppression is toward lofty ends. That’s why nobody seems to care about the fact that Elián is being re-indoctrinated to Communism through the “Young Pioneers” while still on U.S. soil.

Yesterday Greg Craig, Bill Clinton’s Emissary for Cuban Sycophancy and Propaganda, dismissed any anger over the Young Pioneer as so much silliness by those hot-blooded “people” down in Florida. “I know that symbolically, it angers a lot of people in Miami. But it’s a six-year-old, and I don’t see that there’s any reprogramming or brainwashing going on at all. They’re trying to reconnect with his old friends, his old classmates and his old teacher,” Craig said on Meet the Press.

And if it were a meeting of the Hitler Youth? Would that be harmless, so long as they stuck to the three R’s? I don’t consider that hyperbole, so I’ll probably lose some liberals who go soft when it comes to totalitarianisms of the Left. But these are the same people who think school prayer in the United States is one giant leap to theocracy. Again, ask yourselves: Do you think indoctrination is bad, or just indoctrination you don’t agree with?

Ever hear of Pavlik Morozov? For almost three generations, every child in the Soviet Union, and many of her colonies, had to learn about this great Soviet Hero. Young Pavlik was the leader of his Young Pioneers group in his village. He turned in his own father, a Soviet official, for dealing with Kulaks (so-called “rich” peasants). Other versions have it that he turned in his parents for hoarding grain. Regardless, young Pavlik was killed by a mob, and he quickly became a Martyr for Communism. Thousands of schools put on plays telling his story. Children were told there was no greater hero than Young Pavlik, who put the State above his own family.

Indeed, the Cuban constitution still reflects this view. It says that parental authority is contingent upon state approval, and that children are, in essence, the property of the State.

Clinton, Reno, and Craig assert with profound condescension that sending Elián back to Cuba is the best thing possible for parents’ rights. “What is surprising is that it took so long to reach this decision and that politics intruded in it in such a fashion as to put parental rights in real jeopardy,” Craig said on Meet the Press about the 11th circuit ruling.

What a hero.


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