Our Man (Sort of) in Havana - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Our Man (Sort of) in Havana

Barack Obama and John Kerry are on a three-day photo-op to their favorite Latin American City — Havana. The bad news is that they’ll be coming back after Obama explains Cuba to the Cubans — just as he continually explains Islam to the Islamists. The work of twisting the world into Obama’s distorted picture of it never ends. 

Obama believes this trip, along with all the ways in which he has accommodated the thugs who run that imprisoned island, will be a legacy builder for him. It may well be. But not the kind of legacy anyone opposed to dictatorships would want. This is not Tricky Dick engaging with China. Obama got nothing from the cuddly Castro boys in return for all his opening up, and did not appear to even try for anything that would make the lives of ordinary Cubans better. So much easier to strike diplomatic deals when you don’t ask for anything in return for what you give up.

One can easily see why Obama is attracted to Cuba. It has the kind of gun control laws he would like to see here. And it has government health care, which helps explain why physicians there have to drive cabs at night (usually ’54 Chevys held together with spit, gum, and bailing wire) to help make ends meet. They’re really good there with executive orders. And when they round up the usual suspects, as they were rounded up Sunday to sanitize things for Obama’s arrival, they stay rounded up. And judging from the looks of the folks on the street to greet Obama, Cuba has figured out how to deal with obesity.

There’s another player in this publicity stunt — players actually. The Tampa Bay Rays flew to Cuba Sunday night and will play a game against the Cuban national team this afternoon at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana. This ball yard holds 55,000, and is expected to be full and raucous at game time in a city and country that has long loved its beisbol. The Rays should draw so well in St. Petersburg.

The interest of Rays ownership and players is in baseball, and in perhaps generating a little interest in the team on the part of the many Cuban-Americans living in the Tampa Bay area. But it will be difficult for the team and its players not to be used as political props in this ill-advised political sleight-of-hand. There will be much industrial-grade crappola from the Obama/Kerry tag team about “hands across the water” and “improved relations between our two countries.” One febrile local journalist lost total control and gushed, “By the time the island nation is in the team’s rearview mirror Tuesday night, a historic trip will have taken place, in which baseball served as a bonding agent between two countries at odds since the early 1960s.” This guy will require clearance to land. He should seriously consider switching to decaf.

The large headline atop page 1A of Monday’s Tampa Bay Times, the bay area’s relentlessly liberal daily, shouts, “Bitter foes no more.” The subhead refers to “a remarkable visit to a former staunch adversary.” I’ll wait here while you try to figure out what these remarkable assertions might mean. But don’t feel bad if you can’t. The story under the headline offers no clues.

There‘s a lot of this nonsense going around just now. We should pay no attention to this or other cynical political boiler-plate that Obama and the journalists he has enchanted dish out. Regular walking-around Cuban residents will be no freer, no more prosperous, and no happier after the show goes back home than they were before Air Force One arrived Sunday. Not even if the Cuban team beats the Rays. (Which they might — one thing Cubans do well is baseball, which has been part of the island’s culture for almost as long as it has been on the American mainland.) And they will still be faced with the decision Tuesday night of which of their shoes to eat for dinner. If they’re lucky enough to have shoes, that is.

There will be a baseball game today. But if on Wednesday a Cuban gets in any way crosswise with the government, he will still go directly to jail without passing go, just as he would have last week. The baseball games the Baltimore Orioles played against the Cuban national team in 1999 made no difference in the life of ordinary Cubans, nor did the games played by the national team in the various World Baseball Classic series. This game won’t either, though Obama and a fair number of left politicians and gullible journalists will agree to believe, or pretend to believe, that it will. Baseball, for all its charms, is just baseball. (Regular TAS readers know how hard it is for me to say this.)

Obama is expected to attend the game. We can all pray that he does not add to our national embarrassment by attempting to throw out the first pitch. He has tried this a couple of times, with woeful and gender-fluid results. Perhaps the Cubans should hand the ball to Michelle, who I’d bet doesn’t throw as much like a girl as Barry does.

No line out of Las Vegas yet on the game, or on which team Obama will be pulling for. Team Obama hopes to score on this trip. But regular Cubans will be shut out one more time.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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