Obama, Clinton, Carter: A Tradition of Appeasement

Fidel Castro was afraid that the bright-eyed, telegenic Elián González might become a symbol of freedom and that he could damage Castro's image abroad and at home. Therefore, a few days after Elián was found floating on the ocean in an inner tube, Castro gathered 300,000 Cubans on Havana's streets to protest the "kidnapping" of Elián by the United States. Then, just as Ceausescu had tried in my case, Castro attempted to lure Elián back. His two grandmothers were sent to the United States with photo albums containing pictures of Elian's relatives, schoolmates, home, dog, parrot, and empty school desk "waiting for you to return." The grandmothers were provided with new wardrobes and travel expenses. They were accompanied by Cuban handlers, who stage-managed their every move in the United States.

Elián did not fall for Castro's tricks. President Clinton did.

Elián Gonzáles became an international symbol of freedom. Today the Miami house where he lived as a free child is a popular shrine to Elián -- now a 16-year-old pampered prisoner on an isolated Communist island. His old school uniform still hangs in the closet in Miami, along with all the new clothes that he never got a chance to wear. A giant image of the infamous Associated Press photo showing a federal agent pointing an automatic weapon toward Elián, who had been hiding in a bedroom closet, is also on display. We can only hope that some other courageous man, another Ambassador Kirk, will someday let us in on the real reasons why the Clinton administration sent Elian back to Castro's prison.

Now another Clinton has created another Elián: Chen Guangcheng. Chen, a Chinese political dissident, may be blind, but it seems he sees better than does Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who happened to be in Beijing when Chen escaped from Communist detention. Chen saw that Communist China, even though today wearing capitalist clothes, is still a huge prison from which people can escape only with foreign help. Gary Locke, the U.S. ambassador to China, told reporters: "He knew the stark choices in front of him."

Hillary Clinton also knew the stark choices in front of her. If Chen were granted political asylum, the leaders of China would stop granting the U.S. the credits the current administration badly needs in order to transform America into a monument to this presidency. She therefore sent Chen back to the Communist prison from which he had escaped, just as her husband, Bill, had sent Elián back to the Communist prison from which he had so narrowly escaped.

In 1979, President Carter informed his White House staff that, while on a solo fishing expedition in his home town of Plains, Georgia, a rabbit had approached his boat, “hissing menacingly, its teeth flashing and nostrils flared and making straight for the president.” In 1986, President Carter’s press secretary Jody Powell revisited the story in his book The Other Side of the Story. “The president confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. He was unable to reach a definite conclusion about its state of mind.”

The same thing seems to be true of the current leaders of the Democratic Party. Let’s hope that next November the United States will get a White House and a Congress able to tell the difference between wild rabbits and dangerous foreign despots.