Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama lifts Cuba restrictions

President Obama lifted several restrictions on travel and trade with Cuba today. Good for him. It's now possible for Cuban-Americans to travel freely there. It's also possible for them to send money and gifts. And telecommunications companies can sell cellphones, computers, and satellite TVs.

"There are no better ambassadors for freedom than Cuban-Americans.”

- Robert Gibbs, White House spokesman, repeating the obvious truth that Obama articulated during his campaign.

This is pretty much a slam dunk for Obama. He satisfies multiple constituencies - farmers in the Midwest, liberals everywhere, a fair number of Cuban-Americans (at least the ones who are not obsessed with Castro) and other Hispanics. There is very little political risk, and it's a policy which will pay immediate dividends. Lots of people will be thrilled to be able to visit their relatives in Cuba. Some companies will sell more stuff there. I like the categories of things that can be sold under this order: stuff that communicates. That's the best possible way to spread freedom.

There's one minor detail about the NY Times article that I find refreshing and a little humorous. As a mainstream newspaper, they are obligated to provide some balance by acknowledging people who disagree with this policy. Which they do by quoting the two Diaz-Balart brothers, who are both Representatives from the Miami area. Here's what's funny about it: the Times devotes the last paragraph to quoting their press release. That's about the clearest statement the paper can make that it does not take their perspective seriously. It's in the last paragraph. All the Times does is quote their press release. The reporter, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, didn't even bother to call anyone. She just cut and pasted from their press release. Hee hee hee. These people are now marginalized.

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