You may recall that when he first broached the topic of visiting the communist island dungeon, he did so primarily in the context of what a fun vacation destination it would be - which is to say, he can't wait to hit its party-elite golf courses. But he tried to cover his ass, for whatever reason, but adding that gracing the Castros with his demidivine presence would come on the condition that they had to clean up their "human rights" record first.
Well, even the hard-left Human Rights Watch is hard-pressed to avoid conceding that there hasn't been even a token attempt at the latter....:
The Cuban government continues to repress dissent and discourage public criticism. It now relies less on long-term prison sentences to punish its critics, but short-term arbitrary arrests of human rights defenders, independent journalists, and others have increased dramatically in recent years. Other repressive tactics employed by the government include beatings, public acts of shaming, and the termination of employment.
....but that's not preventing his infernal majesty from throwing the beleaguered, oppressed Cuban people under Fidel's and Raul's bus in order to put another coat of polish on his red legacy - and give the finger to Congress and his possible successor at the same time:
As part of his [surrender] to Cuba, Barack Obama is expected to visit the island in March, becoming the first sitting U.S. president to travel there in almost ninety years, sources said Wednesday.
[Obama] is expected to arrive March 21st, sources said. That timetable would put him in Cuba during a week when Havana is awash in special events. On the 20th, the Rolling Stones are expected to conclude their Latin America tour with a concert in Cuba and on March 22nd, Cuba’s national baseball team will play the Tampa Rays in Havana. It’s unclear whether [Obama] will attend the baseball game.
Oh, come on, sure he'll attend - he's got to throw out the first pitch....
....for Fidel's (who was a baseball pitcher once upon a time) hysterical amusement.
Back in reality, nobody else is particularly amused by this latest betrayal:
“If true, it is absolutely shameful that Obama is rewarding the Castros with a visit to Cuba by a sitting American president since their reign of terror began,”U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-FL27, responding before Obama confirmed what had been leaked by sources the night before. “A visit by Barack Obama more than one year after his unilateral concessions to the regime will only legitimize the Castros’ repressive behavior.”
Which is another of the points of the exercise besides wallowing in his defiant indolence.
Marco Rubio was also less than thrilled:
[ANDERSON] COOPER: Another item in the news which actually I’ve literally just learned about, someone was talking in my ear as you were coming out. We just learned that Barack Obama plans to visit Cuba some time I think this month. I don’t know the exact date but he does plan to visit. Is that something as President you would ever do?
RUBIO: Not if there’s not a free Cuba. And I’ll tell you the problem with the Cuban government; it’s not just a communist dictatorship, it is an Anti-American communist dictatorship. The Cuban government three years ago helped North Korea evade U.S. sanctions. They were caught trying to sell missile parts to North Korea but nothing happened.
The Cuban government today harbors hundreds of fugitives of American judicial, Medicare fraud – there are people there who have stolen your money. They come to the U.S., they steal money – Medicare fraud, they go back to Cuba, the Cuban government’s protecting them. The Cuban government is harboring a killer from New Jersey who killed a State trooper in New Jersey. The killer escaped jail, fled to Cuba and the Cuban government is protecting her.
Beyond that, they’re a repressive regime. There’s no elections in Cuba, there’s no choice in Cuba. And so my whole problem – I want the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba to change but it has to be reciprocal.
Look at what we did with Burma or Myanmar, where the U.S. opened up to them but they made political changes. And today, the former minority party is now the majority party in their legislative body because our change towards them was conditional on their change towards their people. He didn’t even ask that of the Cuban government. And so today, a year and two months after the opening of Cuba, the Cuban government remains as repressive as ever. But now, they have access to millions to not billions of dollars in resources that they didn’t have access to before this opening.
Which, since Congress has not, to my recollection, lifted the economic embargo against Cuba, is flagrantly illegal, as are all the "events" and the Rolling Stones concert and the Tampa-Cuba baseball game.
And that, too, is a feature, not a bug:
CBS News’ Pamela Falk calls the planned visit “a shocker.”
“By going to Cuba while he is still in office, Obama is showing Havana that he will continue to make enough progress that it will be difficult for the next president to change course from restoring ties with Cuba — and he is proving to Congress that the president still has a lot of executive authority to change foreign policy,” Falk said. [emphases added]
That "executive authority" does not include legislating away with the stroke of his mighty pen, Kynä, the Cuban economic embargo. But he's done it anyway.
I'm not so sure about the first part, though. It still seems to be the most straightforward way of ensuring that the next president doesn't change course from restoring ties with communist Cuba is by making sure there IS no "next president" via decreeing himself a lifetime presidency. Kind of like Fidel did and Raul is carrying on on his behalf. Which would be the final reason for this trip: So that Red Barry can sit under the Castros' Marxist-Leninist learning tree and take notes.
Maybe he can beat Fidel's record of forty-nine years in power. He'd only be ninety-six in 2057. And after all, aren't "gods" immortal anyway?