SNEAKY, SNEAKY – AT 10:09 A.M. ET: One of the less attractive characteristics of the Obama administration is the tendency to reward hostile foreign nations when they've done absolutely nothing to earn the reward. Thus, an American ambassador now returns to Syria, even though Syria has done nothing to earn our respect. And, during this last week of national mourning, President Obama eased travel restrictions on Cuba. Cuban-American leaders are furious, as Fox News reports:
Republican lawmakers of Cuban descent sharply criticized President Obama's plans to loosen Cuban travel policy to allow students and church groups to go to the communist country, saying the changes will benefit the Castro regime while doing little for the average citizen.
"Loosening these regulations will not help foster a pro-democracy environment in Cuba," said U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "These changes will not aid in ushering in respect for human rights. And they certainly will not help the Cuban people free themselves from the tyranny that engulfs them."
"These changes undermine U.S. foreign policy and security objectives and will bring economic benefits to the Cuban regime," she added.
The administration announced Friday that students seeking academic credit and churches traveling for religious purposes will be able to go to Cuba. The plan will also let any American send as much as $500 every three months to Cuban citizens who are not part of the Castro administration and are not members of the Communist Party.
New Senator Marco Rubio of Floriday also dissented:
"I strongly oppose any new changes that weaken U.S. policy towards Cuba," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said in a statement. "I was opposed to the changes that have already been made by this administration and I oppose these new changes."
"I believe that what does need to change are the Cuban regime's repressive policies towards the independent press and labor unions, it's imprisonment of political prisoners and constant harassments of citizens with dissenting views, and its refusal to allow free multi-party elections," he added.
Even a prominent Democratic senator was appalled:
"I am deeply disappointed by President Obama's decision today to extend an economic life line to the Castro regime," said Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey. "This gift to the Castro brothers will provide the regime with the additional resources it needs to sustain its failing economy, while ordinary Cubans continue to struggle under the weight of more than 50 years of economic and political oppression."
COMMENT: It's a big mistake on the part of the Obama administration. Once again the signal is sent that we can be rolled. The fact that an American ambassador is returning to Syria after five years, with no major concessions from the Syrian regime, indicates that the appeasement faction is still alive and well in the Obama White House, despite some tough words from Hillary Clinton in the past week.
Are there two Barack Obamas, one the left winger, the other the election-time moderate? I believe there are. We'll be presented with a moderate face as we enter the 2012 election cycle. Buyer beware.
January 16, 2011