The Corner

Two ‘Presidents’

At the beginning of Impromptus today, I make some points about President Obama and Raúl Castro — not all of them, of course, because that would take a lot more than one column. I’d like to expand a little here.

Years ago, I wrote a piece called “Who Cares about Cuba?” (Unfindable on the Internet, at least by me.) I pointed out a couple of annoyances that Cuban exiles had to live with. They really disliked it when people in free countries referred to the dictator as “Fidel” — such a cozy, friendly designation. And they disliked it when people referred to the dictator as “president” — “President Castro.”

“President” is a title with a democratic flavor. Obama, for example, was elected twice by the people. Fidel and Raúl have been bosses of the Communist party, dictators, plain and simple.

I have said “Fidel and Raúl” — first-naming is understandable, I think, when you have to distinguish between the brothers and dictators.

Obama repeatedly refers to Raúl as “President Castro.” That is the least of our president’s offenses where Cuba is concerned, believe me. It is no more than a misdemeanor. But I find it rankling nonetheless. More generally, I wish Obama could summon a fraction of the indignation for the boss of a police state that he expresses toward the prime minister of Israel.

Also, Obama speaks of trouble between “our two countries,” the United States and Cuba. He equates the Communist dictatorship with Cuba. Early in Obama’s first term, Lincoln Diaz-Balart, the Cuban American who was then in Congress, pointed out that Obama was the first president to say “Cuba” when he was talking about the dictatorship. This equation of the Communist party with that entire country is appalling. There is no consent of the governed in Cuba.

I could go on — obviously — but let me close this post with a letter. A reader writes,

I wanted to share with you a conversation I had with a friend recently. He and his wife are in their mid-50s and upper-middle-class. They wouldn’t strike most people as all that radical. But they are hyper-partisan Democrats.

We were discussing vacations, and when I told my friend that my parents were spending the winter in Arizona, he looked pained and said, “We don’t go to Arizona anymore. It’s politically unpalatable to us. You know, Jan Brewer, Joe Arpaio . . .”

Where did they go on vacation last summer? That’s right, you guessed it: CUBA!

Of course. An island prison, a one-party dictatorship with a gulag.

I can’t resist making one more point. In politics and diplomacy, of course, you often have to hold your nose and deal with beasts. Churchill and FDR locked arms with Stalin. What is the need to cozy up to the Castros? None. Obama et al. are doing it for pleasure, I think. For personal psychic and ideological satisfaction.

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