Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Fidel Castro endorces Obama

While the McCain ad featuring Britney Spears and Paris Hilton has been getting a lot of media attention, the above ad has been running in Florida for several weeks now, virtually unnoticed. This ad is obviously an attempt to woo the Anti-Castro Cuban voters of Florida. It really doesn't inform; it inflames and distorts. All this ad says is that Castro endorses Obama.

Since John McCain has called for a continuation of the Cuban embargo and Obama has hinted that, under certain circumstances, he would be open to lifting the embargo, I would not be surprised if the Cuban dictators d0 not prefer that Obama be elected the next President of the United States. It seems that the aging Cuban revolutionaries are looking for a way for Cuba to rejoin the modern world. Obama may be willing to let them; McCain wants to continue the policies that may have been wise for a previous era but are now counterproductive.

Even if Castro has endorsed Obama, one cannot stop unsolicited endorsements. The candidate cannot be blamed for those who happen to advocate his election. If David Duke or some other racist or despicable person endorsed John McCain would it be acceptable to run such an ad modeled on the above? I think not.

This is what Fact Check (link) had to say about the ad: "The quote comes from an article by Castro that was largely critical of Obama. Castro also complained that Obama views the Cuban revolution as 'anti-democratic' and that Obama makes the 'exact same' arguments used by U.S. administrations 'to justify their crimes against our country."
That hardly sounds like an endorsement.

Fact check goes on to say that in a speech given by Castro, he summarized a speech Obama had made regarding Cuban policy as saying, "Presidential candidate Obama’s speech may be formulated as follows: hunger for the nation, remittances as charitable hand-outs and visits to Cuba as propaganda for consumerism and the unsustainable way of life behind it."
That is hardly a rousing endorsement.

Obama's position on Cuba is actually not that much different from McCain's. The differences are minuscule. Obama has said, "I will maintain the embargo. It provides us with the leverage to present the regime with a clear choice: If you take significant steps toward democracy, beginning with the freeing of all political prisoners, we will take steps to begin normalizing relations."

I do not think we need to wait until Cuba establishes Democracy to lift the embargo. We did not wait for Democracy to flourish in China or Vietnam before we engaged in trade with those nations. We did not demand that China and Vietnam free all political prisoners before we normalized relations. While neither of these two countries are perfect democracies, neither are they orthodox Communist nations. Our engagement and trade surely led to liberalization in those nations. We can expedite positive change in Cuba by lifting the embargo. We should do it now. Unfortunately, neither McCain or Obama are taking that position.

I am not upset by the use of the Brittany and Paris image in the McCain ad, used to poke fun at Obama's "rock star" status. I am not upset by the use of ridicule and satire in political ads. I am not opposed to hard-hitting campaign ads. Also, pointing out differences with your opponent is valid. When complex topics have to be condensed to a 30 second ad or a billboard, then simplification may even lead to some unavoidable distortion of your opponent's positions. Nuances can't be explained on a billboard.

Ads like the above that distort and slander, however, are not acceptable in my book. I have always thought McCain was an honorable man. I am disappointed.

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