President Trump fulfilled a campaign promise Friday by rolling back parts of President Obama’s dewy-eyed Cuba policy, which was one in a series of naïve, Obama-era deals that left tyrannical foreign leaders feeling they hit the jackpot in the lead-from-behind lottery. The Obama administration rolled back a half-century of sanctions, and in exchange the Castro regime had to do little more than attend a baseball game with Obama and do the wave at his bequest.
President Obama — always in the market for some magic beans — took our best bargaining chip and handed it over to the Castro regime, free of charge. Then, he wound up being a prop in a Raul Castro photo op in which the current head of the murderous regime held up Obama’s noodle-limp arm by the wrist. The pathetic, Jello-arm photograph is a perfect symbol of Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy strategy. Yet, somehow, like so many of Obama’s policy fails, mainstream media outlets declared Cuba an Obama victory.
President Obama's legacy after two terms in the White House is a mishmash of cubic zirconia accomplishments that he tried to pass off as diamonds. The North Korean "leap day" nuclear deal, the Iran nuclear deal, the Cuba deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the Paris Accord — all going-out-of-business-style giveaways designed to weaken America at low, low prices.
President Obama's political skill had nothing to do with sound policy, good deal-making, or good diplomacy. Sherlock Holmes armed with his most powerful magnifying glass couldn't track down one iota of feck hiding anywhere in the Obama administration's foreign policy. Obama's political skill was his ability to use the fawning, Left-worshiping media to convince Democrats that 25-cent, gumball-machine gemstones were rare and valuable jewels.
That's what former senior White House adviser Ben Rhodes was bragging about when he said they sold the Iran deal to the American people by using "clueless" reporters to create an "echo chamber." Remember? He described the con in detail, saying, "Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That's a sea change. They literally know nothing."
"To the Cuban government, put an end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic freedoms."
The only difference between the Obama administration and a run-of-the-mill con artist is that the con artist has the good sense to slink away into the darkness and disappear with the spoils of his mendacity, while Obama administration officials like Rhodes — puffed up by their success — felt the need to break the magician's code and brag about how they pulled off. And after all that, about 35 percent of the country still can't see through it.
Obama's one-sided international deals with hostile governments such as those in Iran, North Korea and Cuba accomplished nothing except to undermine years of sanctions. They're foreign-policy equivalents of trying to smother an evil dictator with a pillow but stopping every so often to let him catch his breath.
Obama's negotiating style is something akin to working at a car dealership, giving away the cars for free, and then taking a slo-mo victory lap around the showroom screaming, "I'm the top salesman."
When it comes to foreign policy, Trump is the anti-Obama: tough, decisive, and prioritizing American interests. His tough words for Cuba on Friday sent much of the media — who have developed a phobia of lead-from-in-front-ism (aka leading) — into another one of their characteristic "who-does-Trump-think-he-is" meltdowns.
"To the Cuban government," Trump said, "put an end to the abuse of dissidents, release the political prisoners, stop jailing innocent people, open yourselves to political and economic freedoms, return the fugitives from American justice, including the return of the cop killer Joanne Chesimard." (click on page 2 for the rest of the story)
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This left many of Trump's media critics red in the face, smoke-from-the-ears outraged that this American president has the audacity to consider American interests and demand a price for America's goodwill.
"Blunder," said Daniel Kurtz-Phelan of New York magazine. "Trump's Cuba policy will fail," proclaimed The Atlantic (in a piece written by none other than admitted liar and echo-chamber manipulator Ben Rhodes). Trump's assertive foreign policy seems alien to those who approach international politics from a planefuls-of-cash paradigm.
President Trump is demanding recognition of basic human rights that Obama should be ashamed he didn't demand himself. When Obama made the one-sided deal with Cuba, the word echoed by 27-year-old reporters was "historic." The sentiment being, "OMG! In over 50 years, no president has been able to do this!" They didn't ask why, but the reason is simple: Obama was the only president in all that time who believed that America's goodwill is worthless and can be given away to brutal dictators free of charge.
The BBC reported on Trump's attempt to negotiate with Cuba like this: "Cuba's government has denounced U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to roll back on policy changes towards the island nation. However, it says it will still cooperate with its larger neighbour." That's exactly as it should be. What would be bad is if the headline read, "Cuba's government can't believe its own good luck regarding the U.S. president's decision to give the Castro regime a get-out-of-sanctions-free card."
Sen. Mark Warner, a Democratic critic of the new Cuba policy, said Trump's decision "to reverse progress in U.S.-Cuba relations sends the wrong message to the world about American leadership." Which message is the wrong message, Senator? That our goodwill isn't free and unconditional? That after eight years we've suddenly decided not to tolerate tyranny? That we can't be steamrolled anymore? That the days of leading from behind are over?
Foreign leaders are rolling out stairs and meeting Air Force One at the airport because, much to the chagrin of the lead-from-behind crowd, President Trump has brought back American leadership.
Eddie Zipperer is an assistant professor of political science at Georgia Military College and a regular LifeZette contributor.