This was National Hug-a-Commie Week in Washington, D.C., a festive seven days of celebrating human rights abuses and political repression.
To kick off the national festivities, President Obama eased travel restrictions on Cuba. Apparently, the president felt that appeasing the Castro regime would be a good tie-in to the 50th anniversary of the inaugural speech of President John Kennedy, the man who imposed the restrictions on Cuba in the first place.
The week was capped off with a state dinner honoring the Chinese president (or dictator, as properly titled by Sen. Harry Reid) Hu Jintao. The invitation list for Obama’s third state dinner included Barbara Streisand and Jackie Chan.
Noticeably absent from the state dinner invitation list was Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo. While the guests at the While House munched on surf and turf, Liu Xiaobo was rotting away in a Chinese prison.
Even Tareq and Michaele Salahi, who infamously crashed President Obama’s first White House state dinner, could not have gotten Liu Xiaobo through the front gate.
President Hu feigned not understanding the English-to-Chinese translation of questions asked of to him by reporters about Liu Xiaobo and China’s history of human rights violations. Hu did understand “bon appétit.”
Left appeasement or national policy shift?
Many Americans are at a total loss to understand the nature of the actions taken this week by the Obama administration towards China and Cuba, two sovereign jails which present themselves to the rest of the world as countries.
Some argue that President Obama is merely appeasing the American left. It has been constantly reported over the last several months that Obama’s base is unhappy with his performance. Coddling to the Hu and Castro regimes tosses the left a philosophical bone.
But others perceive that President Obama actually believes that “Communist conciliation” is, in point of fact, the proper approach to get China and Cuba to address the oppressive nature of their respective governments.
I am not sure which argument is more disturbing.
I was in Miami recently when Sen. Marco Rubio addressed the annual meeting of US-Cuba Democracy PAC. His comments that day were aimed at Cuba. But when he spoke of changing American trade policies with Castro, he could have been speaking about American trade policy with China, as well.
Senator Rubio simply stated that it was them (not us) who should be changing policy.
The implicit policy of several prior U.S. administrations has been to keep the pressure on tyrants like Hu and Castro, who chronically violate basic human rights under the guise of governmental autonomy. Obama’s switch to a velvet glove approach will not bring reform. It will only embolden them.
Hats off to Congressional leaders (both Republicans and Democrats) who did not attend the state dinner and who pressed President Hu for answers when he attended a session with them on Capitol Hill. I’d bet he understood the questions that time.
This week, Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid hit Hu hard with their rhetoric. Republicans John Boehner and Mitch McConnell snubbed an invitation to break bread with Hu at the White House. Finally, America has the bipartisan agreement it’s been seeking from Congressional leadership.
Let’s hope that all four maintain a similar common tone when hearings are held, and debate is had, on Obama’s easing of economic sanctions on Cuba.
Rethinking state dinners
Perhaps President Obama should have thought through his state dinner strategy with his Chinese guest.
Maybe he should have had comedian Mike DeStefano host: “I went to a Chinese restaurant…They had a suggestion box, so I wrote ‘Free Tibet‘.”
Or, speaking of Tibet, maybe Obama should have hosted a state dinner for His Holiness the Dali Lama when he visited D.C. last year. The Lama did get an appointment with Obama, but afterwards he was escorted out the back door normally used to take trash to the official While House dumpsters.
Oh well, hope you had a happy Hug-a-Commie Week. On the up side, First Lady Michelle Obama did look stunning in red.
Rick Robinson is the author of political thrillers which can be purchased on Amazon and at book stores everywhere. His latest novel, Manifest Destiny has won seven writing awards, including Best Fiction at the Paris Book Festival.