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Sat Dec 20, 2014, 07:39 PM

Cha-Cha-Cha: Obama’s On a Roll



http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/give-obama-due-cuba-hes-roll?mbid=social_facebook

December 19, 2014
Cha-Cha-Cha: Obama’s On a Roll
By John Cassidy


Credit PHOTOGRAPH BY KEVIN DIETSCH/UPI VIA LANDOV



If you doubted that President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba was a political and strategic masterstroke, you only have to look at the reaction it has engendered to see otherwise. From Washington to Florida to Caracas, the President’s critics are wandering around in a state of confusion and cognitive dissonance, while more objective observers, including many in Latin America, are hailing the move as a turning point. (In his Daily Comment on Thursday, my colleague Jon Lee Anderson provided some valuable historical context.)

snip//

It is important not to go overboard: tensions between the United States and its southern neighbors haven’t disappeared overnight. On Thursday, for example, President Obama signed legislation allowing his Administration to freeze the financial assets of Venezuelan officials involved in crackdowns on domestic protesters—a move that brought forth another bitter denunciation from Maduro. But credit where it is due: coming from an Administration that is sometimes accused of ignoring its own back yard, this was a foreign-policy move of great symbolic importance, and it didn’t emerge spontaneously from the ether.

Obama, with his clear-eyed approach to the world, which is surely borne partly of having spent some of his formative years living ten thousand miles away from Washington, has long been aware that the United States’s bullying approach toward a small island in the Caribbean made no sense. As far back as May, 2008, when he was running for President, he pointed out that the U.S. policy of isolating Havana economically and diplomatically was serving the interests of neither Americans nor Cubans. After taking office, he lifted restrictions on how much money Cubans living in the United States could send to their families, and how often they could return home. As a realist and a humanitarian, he should have gone further—and now he has, creating consternation and division in the Republican ranks.

snip//

Not only that, but Jeb Bush, fresh from announcing, via Facebook, that he was all but entering the Presidential race, got himself in a Cuban pickle. A longtime foe of liberalizing relations with Havana, he took to Facebook again, this time to slam Obama’s move and describe it as “another dramatic overreach of his executive authority.” So far, so predictable. But then BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski pointed out on Wednesday night that Bush has a lucrative consulting gig with a big bank, Barclays, that paid a heavy fine, not so long ago, for violating the sanctions on Cuba. Ouch! According to the Financial Times, even before the BuzzFeed story came out, Bush was in the midst of cutting his ties to Barclays. But the damage had been done and, by Thursday night, Rachel Maddow was busy regaling her MSNBC viewers with Jeb’s Cuba troubles. She didn’t quite break out a chorus of “Happy Days Are Here Again,” but that was her general drift.

No wonder that Obama was looking so chipper at his year-end press conference on Friday, during which he announced that he would take some unspecified actions against North Korea for hacking Sony. Since the midterm elections on November 4th, he has introduced his own immigration reforms, called for Internet-service providers to be regulated like utilities, reached a climate agreement with China, and, now, embarked on a reset with Cuba. It is true that, in the interim, he also signed a lousy spending bill stuffed with giveaways to corporate interests, among them Wall Street banks and truck companies. But still: for a President who, on Election Night, was being written off as the lamest of ducks, it’s quite a turnaround. The Washington Post ’s David Ignatius reckons that the sports-loving President is breaking out his changeup. A headline at Politico referred to him as “Obama libre.” You can say it in Spanish, French, English, or whatever: the Thin Man is on a roll.

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Reply Cha-Cha-Cha: Obama’s On a Roll (Original post)
babylonsister Dec 2014 OP
flamingdem Dec 2014 #1
elleng Dec 2014 #2
IrishAyes Dec 2014 #3
Voice for Peace Dec 2014 #4
Major Hogwash Dec 2014 #5
Cha Dec 2014 #6

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Dec 20, 2014, 07:55 PM

1. This has been so much fun

I was a registered Cuba fan already and never thought this would happen. It's so obvious that it should happen, but somehow there was always an obstacle, usually in congress. There was talk that he'd do it at the end of his term but this is so much better, we can enjoy it with him!!!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Dec 20, 2014, 08:11 PM

2. And in HAWAII!!!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Dec 20, 2014, 09:26 PM

3. This week has been enough to pull me out of last weekend's deep slump.

Glad I got to catch both pressers live. At one time President Obama said something that struck me immediately as key to understanding his general philosophy - that lasting, substantive progress would blossom in an atmosphere w/o chaos. Didn't surprise me at all, but I think that pretty much covers everything he's been trying to do.

Now the GOP's running scared because his Cuba policy's likely to turn Florida blue as the ocean and lose Rubio his seat. I couldn't be happier. While I in no way fault President Obama for biding his time, I'm thrilled to see the gloves come off now. LOVE THAT MAN!

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sat Dec 20, 2014, 09:49 PM

4. What a nice change, the writer appears to like and respect the President.

 

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Sun Dec 21, 2014, 01:18 AM

5. A great week for America.

And for Cuba.
And for the entire world.

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Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Mon Dec 22, 2014, 10:41 AM

6. Thin Man is on a roll. Cha Cha Cha! Gracias babylonsistah~

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