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TYRRELL: Obama’s world tour
Question of the Day
Stop the presses! Finally, after half a century of staunch disagreement with Fidel Castro, I see the Cuban dictator has rendered a judgment with which I heartily agree.
Responding to the Prophet Obama’s friendly conversation with his brother President Raul Castro at the Summit of the Americas in steamy Port of Spain, Mr. Castro, in the words of the Associated Press, “blasted the new U.S. president for showing signs of ‘superficiality.’ ” After all the Hollywood stars Mr. Castro has hosted on his island paradise, you can rest assured he is a connoisseur of superficiality.
Mr. Castro apparently was angered by the Prophet’s response to Raul Castro’s offer of Cuban diplomats to convene with their American counterparts and discuss “todo” - that is Spanish for everything. Pardon my swanking, but while at the summit, the Prophet did some swanking with his bilingualism, too. He called Hugo Chavez, another Latin American dictator, “mi amigo” with near perfect accentuation.
Raul Castro had mentioned human rights, press freedoms and political prisoners as topics for discussion, and our president, in his innocence, thought Mr. Castro was talking about … well, political prisoners - for instance the prominent opposition leaders who were imprisoned six years ago, many of whom still suffer in Cuba’s ghastly hellholes. Mr. Obama also mentioned the Cuban government’s larcenous policy of taxing the money that Cubans abroad send back to their families. That really irked Fidel Castro, whose denunciation of our president could put him in bad odor with his Hollywood fans.
Sean Penn, Oliver Stone, Michael Moore and the rest have had warm relations with Fidel through the years. The political awareness and activism of our actors and actresses go back generations to the selfless political engagement of John Wilkes Booth. Always, our actors are passionate about their beliefs.
There is something curious about the frenetic pace of the 44th president’s foreign trips this month. Not since the summer of 1998 has an American president made so many dashes abroad. Have any of the sleuths in the Washington press corps checked on Mr. Obama’s relations with his interns?
I josh, but his energetic globetrotting is unusual, given his obligations at home. Here we are struggling with recession and a sour banking system. The Prophet adds to them the most colossal domestic package since the New Deal and hastens off to Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Mexico.
Increasingly, it appears the Prophet Obama is not so much conducting a presidency as a world tour. He left for London on April 2; hit Strasbourg and Baden-Baden, Prague, Istanbul and Iraq; and returned early on April 8. Eight days later, he went off to Mexico, then Trinidad, returning to his empty White House on April 19. What will be next for our restless president, Disneyland?
As I mentioned last week, to hear this president run down America, you would think it was a failed state until he was transformed from junior senator from Illinois to president of the United States.
Mr. Obama has surpassed former President Jimmy Carter’s precedent of being the first ex-president to criticize while on foreign soil a sitting president. Mr. Obama has become the first sitting president to criticize America while on foreign soil, and he does it with the practiced zeal of a person who has been feeding on anti-American myths for years.
During his visit with Mr. Chavez, Mr. Obama received from his new amigo a copy of the virulently anti-American book, “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent.” As the book, abounding with exaggeration and arrant falsehoods, appeared in 1971, I would not be surprised if the president already had a copy. Doubtless he heard similar canards during the anti-American rants of his pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.
Certainly our president’s friend Bill Ayers, alumnus of the Weather Underground, believes every word in “Open Veins.” Its anti-Americanism was at the heart of the New Left back in the days of the Cold War. Its thesis is that Europe and America have exploited Latin America for centuries, leaving it impoverished and governed by corrupt leaders.
Now, of course, Latin America has such democratic exemplars as Mr. Chavez and the Castro brothers. There are also Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega and Bolivia’s Evo Morales.
So maybe good government is at hand for Latin America. Possibly it is only a matter of time before these political geniuses return Latin America to the glory of the Incas and the Aztecs. Perhaps Mr. Obama, too, can bring civilization to America. Meanwhile, think of all the frequent-flyer miles he is accumulating.
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