Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Obama Hits the Nail on the Head (Part 1)

I recall Val Prieto once saying that if there's a response (seen more as "damage control") to a comment made, then that means that the original comment "hit the nail on the head." Following such logic, that means Barack Obama must have really "hit the nail on the head."

Since his column appeared yesterday in the Miami Herald, Obama's Cuba policy has gotten responses from the leading presidential candidates, the Cuban-American political leadership, and the leaders of the hard-line Cuban community.

Today's article in the Herald, by Beth Reinhard and Lesley Clark, summarizes the various positions by the Democratic and Republican candidates and how they either partially agree or fully disagree with Barack Obama. Democratic Presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton disagreed fully with Obama's Cuba policy, as some expected. Political blogger Tom Bevan believes that "Clinton took the bait, giving Obama exactly the line he wanted: she would continue the Bush administration's hard-line stance." Which also happens to be the stance of most Republicans.

According to John King from CNN, "[Republican Presidential candidate] Gov. Mitt Romney was quick to pounce" on Obama's comments saying that "unilateral concessions to a dictatorial regime are counterproductive" and that Obama "does not have the strength to confront America's enemies or defend our values." Ouch. One of Mitt Romney's advisors is Al Cardenas, a hard-line Cuban exile.

And, "Rudy Giuliani [the other leading Republican candidate] believes America must stand ready to help the Cuban people reclaim their freedom, but decreasing sanctions on Cuba will only serve to boost the Castro regime.''

Sen. Mel Martinez of Florida, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said that Obama's comments showed "that he either didn't think it through very well or simply hasn't had enough experience on these tough foreign policy problems."

But, Tim Padgett from Time Magazine believes that Obama is making a brave strategic move based on "a new conventional wisdom [that] may well be taking shape in the state [of Florida]." A "wisdom" that the Babalu Blog fully rejects by simply looking at voter registration numbers of Cuban-Americans. Padgett cites the FIU Cuba Poll from this year that showed support for reversing the Cuban family travel restrictions of 2004. And, he also mentions the influence of the non-Cuban Hispanic vote, which according to a Miami Herald article from last week revealed that "about 37 percent of the Hispanics in Florida are registered as Republicans, compared with about 33 percent registered as Democrats. The remaining 30 percent are independent or belong to minor parties, according to the Florida Division of Elections." Furthermore, the 37% of Republicans is a drop from 59% less than a decade ago.

These are significant factors to consider, whose influences Padgett believes will be revealed soon when Obama appears in Miami this Saturday and in a Miami "forum" with Hillary Clinton and John Edwards on September 9th.

But, the hard-liners dismiss such possibilities. And, they fully reject the lifting of the 2004 restrictions based on a moral principle, which also reveals that hard-liners may really be wishing for a full embargo, perhaps a naval blockade like Armando Perez-Roura once suggested to John McCain.

But, the response that Obama got from Radio Mambi today, and yesterday, must surely mean he hit on something really big.

[Part 2]

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