Monday, December 10, 2007

El Foro de los Republicanos

I missed the Republican debate in Spanish last night…which is fair because I pretty much missed the one the Democrats did a few months ago. The Miami Herald has a good wrap-up, noting that the candidates toned down the anti-immigrant bashing for the moment and got by with their usual campaign rhetoric translated into Spanish, and they did the usual pandering as well. (If you want to read the wrap in Spanish, go here.)

This being Miami, they also let go with the expected stern stand in favor of the Cuban embargo. Ron Paul, to his credit (or nerve) stuck to his guns that the embargo should be lifted (and got booed for the effort) and we should talk to Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. John McCain got off a good one on Paul, repeating the admonition of King Juan Carlos of Spain to Mr. Chávez: “¿Por qué no te callas?” — “Why don’t you shut up?”

Mike Huckabee had to explain why he wrote a letter in 2002 (clippings conveniently provided by the Thompson campaign) advocating the lifting of the embargo, saying “U.S. policy on Cuba has not accomplished its stated goal of toppling the Castro regime and instead has provided Castro with a convenient excuse for his own failed system of government.” The reason for the stand had more to do with Arkansas agricultural sales to the island rather than politics, and Huckabee, knowing his local audience, backed off during the debate. Rep. Duncan Hunter got off one of the more egregious bit of pandering, dredging up the old canard that young Cubans should register as Republicans because it was the Democrats who blew the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961. Mr. Hunter is conveniently ignoring the fact that the plan was hatched under the Eisenhower administration and Kennedy, to his everlasting regret, allowed it to go forward three months into his administration, and he let the military and the CIA call the shots. That he was to blame for the failure is, to be charitable, not the whole story, and it’s pretty sad that the Republicans think that they can get away with it. (If Nixon had won in 1960, rest assured that the invasion would have gone ahead.)

Tom Tancredo, the fire-breathing anti-immigrant Congressman from Colorado, skipped the whole thing. Apparently his brown shirt wasn’t back from the laundry in time.