Lots of folks jumping on the bash Bush bandwagon over his breifing yesterday vis-a-vis Cuba. To those folks I say, dont worry about fastening your seatbelts, bandwagons with no wheels dont move much.
Jay Nordlinger makes my point quite succinctly at NRO:
Conservatives are down on President Bush, often unreasonably, I believe. I also think they’re a little ungrateful — ungrateful, spoiled, and smug. They will miss him sorely when he’s gone, I feel sure. This is true whether a Republican or a Democrat succeeds him.
One thing they will miss, I predict, is his truth-telling. I don’t believe they realize how rare it is to have a man in the highest office who over and over again tells the truth — boldly and unapologetically. I thought of this, not for the first time, when reading the speech Bush gave about Cuba yesterday. I hope you will want to read it all (here). But let me offer a couple of snippets:
Cuba’s rulers promised individual liberty. Instead they denied their citizens basic rights that the free world takes for granted. In Cuba it is illegal to change jobs, to change houses, to travel abroad, and to read books or magazines without the express approval of the state. It is against the law for more than three Cubans to meet without permission. Neighborhood Watch programs do not look out for criminals. Instead, they monitor their fellow citizens — keeping track of neighbors’ comings and goings, who visits them, and what radio stations they listen to. The sense of community and the simple trust between human beings is gone.
Cubans have made this point to me over and over again. One woman told me — in words I’ll never forget — “It takes a martyr-level courage even to function as a decent human being in Cuban society”: not to steal, not to inform, not to sell sexual favors, not to buy them, not to lie.
In the president’s speech, I was also interested and pleased to see the following:
Cuba’s rulers promised freedom of the press. Instead they closed down private newspapers and radio and television stations. They’ve jailed and beaten journalists, raided their homes, and seized their paper, ink and fax machines. One Cuban journalist asked foreigners who visited him for one thing: a pen.
The president had in mind Raúl Rivero, the former political prisoner — a poet and journalist now in exile in Spain.
Finally, consider this stirring paragraph:
. . . The socialist paradise is a tropical gulag. The quest for justice that once inspired the Cuban people has now become a grab for power. And as with all totalitarian systems, Cuba’s regime no doubt has other horrors still unknown to the rest of the world. Once revealed, they will shock the conscience of humanity. And they will shame the regime’s defenders and all those democracies that have been silent. One former Cuban political prisoner, Armando Valladares, puts it this way: It will be a time when “mankind will feel the revulsion it felt when the crimes of Stalin were brought to light.” And that time is coming.
I hope that is true; I’m not sure it is. The Western Left — soft and hard — has invested a great deal in Castroism, for the last 50 years. It will be very, very hard for them to give it up — to admit what Communism has done to Cuba and Cubans. I’ve argued about this with Armando before. But, again, I hope he is right; I hope he and the president are right; and that my skepticism is ill-founded.
To say once more: The president has told the truth. He has said things about Cuba that you will never hear from the major university faculties, or the major newspapers, or the major movie studios. And I, for one, will not forget it.
Yes, he spent too much in his first term; yes, he had steel tariffs in place for about two seconds; yes, the prescription-drug benefit is sketchy; yes, there have been mistakes on the war; yes, Harriet Miers — etc., etc. But do you realize how rare this president is? If you don’t now — I have a feeling you will later.
I cant recall who said it on last night’s Radio Hour: The castro regime’s worst enemy is truth.