Senator John McCain wants to keep an ailing Cold War dinosaur alive. The U.S. embargo against Cuba must continue, he insists, so that the island nation will begin the process of democratization. Speaking at a Cuban Independence Day event in Miami yesterday, McCain vowed to take a hard line on Cuba if elected. He pulled out all of Dubya's tired old rhetoric, which Dubya inherited from every presidential administration going back to Dwight D. Eisenhower. He listed all of the reforms that Cuba must pursue to achieve normalized relations, including holding free elections, releasing all political prisoners, and allowing free expression of ideas. "On this Cuban Independence Day," McCain told the Miami crowd, "let us take a moment to pray that Cubans everywhere will soon enjoy the liberty for which their forefathers fought."
McCain also used the speech as an opportunity to slam Senator Barack Obama (left), who favors normalizing relations with Cuba.
The emergence of a democratic Cuba is long overdue. But McCain's strategy has been in place for about a half a century and so far all it has done is strengthen the Cuban Communist Party. McCain's speech, moreover, was a crass attempt to win support from the Cuban exile community in Miami (one Cuban-American woman at McCain's speech dramatically announced that Florida would be his for the taking). This is the same Senator McCain who supported normalizing relations with Cuba back in 2000 (granted, there were some conditions attached to his position back in 2000, but he was much more open to the idea then than he is now). This is the same Senator McCain who supports far harsher treatment of prisoners in the dungeons of Guantanamo Bay (without due process) than anything happening in Cuba's prisons. This is the same Senator McCain who was the main political figure in Washington, D.C. pushing for normalized relations with the Socialist Republic of Vietnam -- another communist country -- with far fewer conditions attached to normalization in that case. This is the same Senator McCain whose track record of supporting "democracy" in other parts of Latin America is not especially admirable.
Hearing neocons like McCain -- who don't really give a hoot in hell about people's liberties (where's self-determination in Iraq? I don't see it) -- prattle on and on about "freedom" and "democracy," buzzwords that don't mean a thing other than they sound warm and fuzzy, is enough to make any sane person queasy to the point of blowing chunks. It's hypocrisy at its worst. And now McCain is trashing Obama, a daring political figure who wants to take U.S. policy in a new direction, over his position on Cuba. Is there anyone out there who actually believes McCain is still a maverick? If so, I got a bridge in Brooklyn that's perfect for you --cheap -- and the papers are ready to sign.