January 29, 2015

Cuba is making demands now? Here's why Obama will cave.

A couple of stories on Drudge Report regarding the attempt by Obama to normalize relations with Cuba, caught my eye this morning.

In order to normalize relations, Cuba is demanding (yes, demanding) that the U.S. embargo of Cuba be fully lifted. But that's not all. Cuba is insisting that the U.S. return Guantanamo to Cuban control to have relations return to normal.

While the latter demand plays right into Obama's 2008 campaign promise to close the detention center there, it goes a step further and I'm curious as to whether this is a significant part of Obama's agenda on Cuba. He's going to engage enemies and close Guantanamo (because Cuba demanded it as part of the negotiations). How cute. I bet he thinks he's killed two birds with one stone.

But not so fast there Cuba. And Obama. What about that embargo. Is the U.S. just going to lift that free of charge,especially considering what the U.S. will be getting in return - squat. No human rights improvements in the country. No real trade benefits except for perhaps better cigars is implicit in this deal.

So why do it, and how many in the U.S. Senate are going to balk at ratifying a treaty that gives the U.S. nothing? I have two thoughts on that.

Firstly, if a treaty goes to the Senate for ratification, it requires a supermajority to pass. That's not going to happen but very likely will happen is a vote along party lines. And that could be exactly what Obama wants and he'll want it precisely before the 2016 elections, where he and (presumably) Hillary Clinton can complain that once again the Republicans are the party of 'NO'.

How do Republicans avoid this? Not bringing it up for a vote at all prevents it from passing but keeps the meme of GOP = NO alive. They could try to get bipartisan support to vote against passage of the treaty into law. Given the poltical importance for 2016, that may be impossible. We've seen the Democrats far too often converge around issues they clearly don't agree upon because they believe it will help the party. So that leaves one possible line of defense. I'm not even sure in the case of reaties that this is legal, but what I would do is attach so many riders to the passage of the treaty that it becomes unpalatable to the president. Repeal Obacare, pass Keystone, reverse Dodd-Frank. Anything you can think of adding, add.

Of course the instant media meme will be that the Republicans are trying manipulate passage and that they are either still obstructionist or else being unreasonable in their demands. But therein lies the opportunity to respond that the president had promised he would try to work together to get bi-partisan compromise and that because there has been none, this is the last opportunity during this administration to make something like that happen. If the president really wants this, then come to the bargaining table and finally talk to us. Repeat it. Often. Play clips of "I won" type comments from 2008 to the present and let people know, that's not post-partisan, and every Democrat who is knuckling under to this one-way deal, including Clinton/Warren/Biden is a partisan hack who is not open to compromise and will continue to poison the air in Washington during the next administration.

Boom.

One other thought I had on this is "Why Cuba"? Why not Iran? I'm sure Obama would like to be friendlier to that rogue nation as well. Evidence dates back to his early apology tour. The answer to that is pretty obvious. Cuba has been so unimportant over the last 50 years (post missle crisis) that it seems almost inconsequntial to strike a deal. The reason that Cuba has been so inconsequential? The embargo. It worked to keep a communist nation from becoming important geo-politically.

So, there's that.
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