In the leadup to the 2016 election, Republicans are doing their usual pandering to the older Cuban emigres in South Florida (and to conservatives who still think the Cold War exists and communism is at all relevant in the world) by promising to block anyone nominated as ambassador to Cuba.
Critics, including several GOP presidential candidates, are arguing that the president – in ending 50 years of frozen relations – is rewarding Cuba’s dictatorial regime. Immediately after Obama announced what he called a “historic step forward,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas promised to oppose any ambassador to Cuba or funding for an embassy construction.
“I, for one, want the Cuban people to know that there are still those who stand with them, and who know the Castros for what they are,” said Cruz, a Cuban-American, in a statement. “I will hold any nominee President Obama sends to the Senate to be ambassador to Cuba, and I will work to disapprove any new funds for embassy construction in Havana, unless and until the President can demonstrate that he has made some progress in alleviating the misery of our friends, the people of Cuba.”
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida issued a similar statement, arguing the Obama administration has “continued to look the other way and offer concession after concession.” Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, also said he intended to oppose the confirmation of any ambassador to Cuba until abuses of the Castro regime are addressed.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker posted a Facebook note calling the move to establish full diplomatic relations “yet another example of his appeasement of dictators” and accused him of “foolishly rewarding the brutal Castro dictatorship and selling out the Cuban people.”
And Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has said in the past that he’d use his power to block the use of funds to open an embassy in Cuba, issued a statement criticizing Obama’s decision on Wednesday saying “As president, I would not honor this decision with Cuba and I would close the embassy until the Castro brothers actually change their behavior.”…
Other 2016 GOP presidential candidates who are not currently in office (and wouldn’t have a say in confirming a nominee) also voiced their disapproval on Wednesday, including former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. While the issue gives Republicans a perch to rail against Obama’s foreign policy, it isn’t necessarily a slam dunk issue.
Funny, I’ve never heard any of those men try to block having an ambassador to Pakistan. Or Saudi Arabia. Or China. All countries with a far worse record of oppression than Cuba and who might pose an actual threat to us at some point, which Cuba could not do. This is selective outrage for the purpose of political pandering (a lot of alliteration). It’s playing games with foreign policy, which is primarily the function of the president, not Congress. It’s also not going to play well in the general election, since 60% of Americans support the reestablishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba.