Last week Miami Marlins man- ager Ozzie Guillen told Time magazine that he loves and respects Fidel Castro. This week, reacting to outrage by Americans of Cuban heritage, who comprise a huge chunk of Marlins ticket-buyers, the team suspended Mr. Guillen for five games. Apparently eager to head off worse retribution (and damage to ticket sales), a moping Mr. Guillen issued a groveling apology at a Miami news conference.
“I am here on my knees,” he whimpered. “I am here to say I am sorry with my heart in my hands. … I hurt a lot of people’s feelings. Now I want to apologize because I did the wrong thing. It was a very stupid comment. … This is the biggest mistake so far in my life. If I don’t learn from this mistake, then I will call myself dumb.”
Many luminaries in the Democratic Party and mainstream media must be snickering at the hapless Mr. Guillen:
c The very Time magazine that quoted his “respect” for Fidel Castro: In its “Heroes and Icons” issue, Time honors Mr. Castro’s chief hangman Che Guevara as among the most heroic and iconic of the lot, right alongside Anne Frank, Andrei Sakharov, Rosa Parks and Mother Teresa. “This obscure Argentine doctor who abandoned his profession and his native land to pursue the emancipation of the poor,” starts the eulogy. For the record: No proof of Ernesto Guevara’s medical degree exists.
c Two-time candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination Jesse Jackson: “Viva Fidel! Viva Che!” he bellowed while arm-in-arm with Mr. Castro himself in 1984.
c One-time presidential candidate, Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and “conscience” of the Democratic Party George McGovern: “Fidel Castro is very shy and sensitive. I frankly like him and regard him as a friend.”
c Former President of the United States and official “elder statesman” of the Democratic Party Jimmy Carter: “Fidel Castro first and foremost is and always has been a committed egalitarian. He wanted a system that provided the basic needs to all - enough to eat, health care, adequate housing and education. Cuba has superb systems of health care and universal education. … We greeted each other as old friends.”
c NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “Fidel Castro is old-fashioned, courtly - even paternal, a thoroughly fascinating figure!”
c Dan Rather: “Fidel Castro could have been Cuba’s Elvis!”
c Barbara Walters: “Castro’s personal magnetism is still powerful, his presence is still commanding. Cuba has very high literacy, and Castro has brought great health care to his country.”
c CNN founder Ted Turner: “Fidel Castro is one helluva guy!”
c Rep. Charles B. Rangel, who during a thundering ovation in the mass-murderer’s honor in Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church in 1995 and with Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters looking on in rapture, waddled up to the podium beside the tyrant and - oomph!- engulfed him in a mighty bear hug.
c Time magazine in January 1996 when it hailed Fidel Castro as “The Toast of Manhattan!” The title referred to Mr. Castro’s reception by Manhattan’s beautiful people on the terrorist/torturer’s visit to New York.
“The Hottest Ticket in Manhattan!” also read a Newsweek story that week, referring to the social swirl that engulfed Mr. Castro in New York by the media luminaries. These included Peter Jennings, Tina Brown, Bernard Shaw, Mike Wallace, Barbara Walters, among many, many others. Fox News’ David Asman, then with the Wall Street Journal and obviously smitten, approached Fidel Castro and smilingly asked for his autograph.
Diane Sawyer was so overcome in his presence that she rushed up, broke into that toothy smile of hers, wrapped her arms around Mr. Castro and smooched him warmly on the cheek.
“You people are the cream of the crop!” beamed the mass murderer to the smiling throng that surrounded him.
In an interview with Men’s Journal back in 2008, Ozzie Guillen spoke fondly of Fidel Castro: “Everywhere he goes, they roll out the red carpet. I don’t admire his philosophy; I admire him.”
But Mr. Guillen was in Chicago then, managing the White Sox. Same Ozzie Guillen, same Fidel Castro, similar comment - but much different ticket-buyers.
Humberto Fontova is author of “Fidel: Hollywood’s Favorite Tyrant” (Regnery, 2005).