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Trump Reverses Parts Of Obama’s Opening To Cuba

Diana Nyad

Yesterday during a visit to Miami, President Trump announced a rollback of President Obama’s opening to Cuba that has resulted in the resumption of diplomatic relations and some economic and business dealing after more than five decades of an embargo that was imposed at the height of the Cold War:

MIAMI — President Trump announced on Friday that he was reversing crucial pieces of what he called a “terrible and misguided deal” with Cuba and will reinstate travel and commercial restrictions eased by the Obama administration in an attempt to obtain additional concessions from the Cuban government.

During a speech in Little Havana, the epicenter of a Cuban exile community that enthusiastically supported him in last year’s election, Mr. Trump said he was keeping a campaign promise to roll back the policy of engagement begun by President Barack Obama in 2014, which he said had empowered the communist government in Cuba and enriched the country’s repressive military.

“We will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer,” Mr. Trump said at the Manuel Artime Theater, named for a former supporter of Fidel Castro who became a leader of Brigade 2506, the land forces that spearheaded the United States-led Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.

“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” Mr. Trump said.

But Mr. Trump’s action fell well short of doing so. After the speech, he signed a six-page directive that ordered new travel and commercial restrictions while leaving in place some key Obama-era measures that eased sanctions.

As part of the new policy, Americans will no longer be able to plan their own private trips to Cuba, and those who go as part of authorized educational tours will be subject to strict new rules and audits to ensure that they are not going just as tourists. American companies and citizens will also be barred from doing business with any firm controlled by the Cuban military or its intelligence or security services, walling off crucial parts of the economy, including much of the tourist sector, from American access.

“We do not want U.S. dollars to prop up a military monopoly that exploits and abuses the citizens of Cuba,” Mr. Trump said.

Despite his grandiose description, the policy represents a middle ground between hard-liners in Congress, including Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Mario Díaz-Balart, both Florida Republicans who have called for a complete reversal of Mr. Obama’s Cuba policy, and business leaders, human rights groups and many of Mr. Trump’s own advisers who wanted to preserve it.

It drew swift condemnation from diverse quarters, from congressional Democrats and a handful of Republicans who support greater engagement with Cuba, to business-minded conservatives like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which argued the move would hurt American businesses and jobs.

Still, Mr. Trump’s action allowed him to claim credit for taking a tough stand while leaving in place many of the changes made by Mr. Obama, which polls have shown are broadly supported, including by most Republicans.

(…)

But Mr. Trump’s speech was a stinging rejection of Mr. Obama’s announcement in 2014 that he and President Raúl Castro of Cuba would begin normalizing relations between the two countries. Mr. Trump’s speech evoked, instead, the Cold War thinking that dominated the United States government’s stance toward Cuba for a half-century.

“To the Cuban government, I say: Put an end to the abuse of dissidents,” Mr. Trump said. “Release the political prisoners. Stop jailing innocent people. Open yourselves to political and economic freedoms. Return the fugitives from American justice.”

Just over one year ago, Mr. Obama took the stage at a theater in Havana, with Mr. Castro in attendance, to reject that thinking and declare that he intended to “bury the last vestige of the Cold War” and “leave behind the ideological battles of the past.”

On Friday, Mr. Trump sought to revive that struggle, listing the misdeeds of the Castro government over more than five decades. “We will never, ever be blind to it,” Mr. Trump said. “We remember what happened.”

His audience of Cuban exiles and their families, including Mr. Rubio and Mr. Díaz-Balart, roared its approval. “President Trump will treat the Castro regime as the malevolent dictatorship that it is,” Mr. Díaz-Balart said.

But critics argued that Mr. Trump was returning to a strategy that had been a proven failure.

Benjamin J. Rhodes, a former deputy national security adviser for Mr. Obama who led secret negotiations with Cuban officials that led to the rapprochement, said Mr. Trump’s moves would undermine his stated objectives, pushing the Cubans into the arms of the Chinese and Russians, who have no restrictions on their dealings there, and emboldening hard-liners in the country who are opposed to moving toward democracy.

“If you want Cuba to change and reform, we are doing the opposite of what would be most likely to bring about reforms inside of Cuba,” Mr. Rhodes said.

(…)

Under Mr. Trump’s directive, the Treasury and Commerce Departments will have 30 days to begin writing new travel and commercial regulations. They are instructed to reverse a rule that Mr. Obama put in place last year to allow Americans who are making educational or cultural trips to initiate their own travel to Cuba without special permission from the United States government and without a licensed tour company, as long as they kept records of their activities for five years.

Such trips will now only be possible through a United States government-approved tour company, as was the case before 2016. The move shuts down what amounted to a backdoor way to allow American tourism in Cuba, despite the decades-old embargo that prohibits it.

Mr. Trump is also directing a broad prohibition against Americans doing business with companies controlled by the military, intelligence or security services in Cuba, which own large segments of the economy through the military’s business arm known as Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A., or Gaesa.

The change could have sweeping implications for American companies, but it is not clear how it will affect existing deals, such as the one struck by Starwood Hotels and Resorts last year to manage hotels in Cuba, including one owned by the military conglomerate Gaviota.

The reality, of course, is that this policy change has little to do with concern for human rights and everything to do with Republican political pandering in Florida. If Trump were truly concerned about human rights, he wouldn’t be cozying up to authoritarian regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and The Phillippines at the same time that he seems to be willfully alienating our long-standing democratic allies in Europe, for example. Additionally, it’s worth noting that most Americans supported President Obama’s changes to American policy toward Cuba, as did most Republicans and even most Cuban-Americans. The only significant demographic group that remained opposed to the changes was made up of the small community of Cuban exiles in South Florida that have voted reliably Republican for decades now. This community, which Cuban-American Republicans such as Senator Marco Rubio and Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart continues to pander to, is a much smaller part of the Cuban-American community nationwide but still politically powerful in Florida. This is why Trump went to Miami to announce these policy changes.

As noted, as was the case with pretty much every other candidate for President on the Republican side last year, Trump ran for office promising to reverse Obama’s opening to Cuba, a policy that he contended was another example of the “bad deals” that the United States had made that he would reverse if elected. As it turns out, though, the action that Trump took yesterday falls short of a full reversal of the President’s policy, although the prospects for a further rollback of the embargo in the future seem low. For example, the policy change does not impact diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana. The U.S. Embassy in Cuba, and the Cuban Embassy in Washington remain open, although it’s unclear if Trump intends to appoint an Ambassador or if the Senate would confirm such a nomination. After normalization of relations, President Obama nominated Acting Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis to the position, but he was never due to the refusal of the Republican-controlled Senate to act on the nomination. DeLaurentis remains in the position of Acting Ambassador to this day. In addition to diplomatic relations, many business contacts will continue, as will the expanding market for cruises and direct flights between the United States and Cuba that have been put in place over the past three years since the policy changes made by President Obama. Finally, as noted above, it will still be possible for Americans to travel to Cuba although the changes will make the process somewhat more cumbersome.

Despite the fact that Trump’s policy change falls short of the full reversal he promised as a candidate, it’s still significant enough to be noteworthy, and it seems to be to be entirely counterproductive. As The New York Times notes even these minor changes could end up harming the multitude of small businesses that have sprung up in Cuba in recent years, many of which were benefiting from increased trade and travel prompted by the changes that President Obama was able to bring about. In addition to reopening air travel for the first time fifty years, increased travel by Americans and others provided Cubans the opportunity to profit from such companies as Airbnb, which has proven to be quite competitive in Cuba given the fact that there are currently few hotels available to accommodate increased travel from the United States and elsewhere. Of course, President Obama was unable to fully lift the embargo since that would require Congressional consent that Republicans have made clear would not be forthcoming, but the changes that had been made have been helping the Cuban people. Stepping back from them is a mistake that will only help Cuban hardliners, hurt the Cuban people, and restrict the freedom of American citizens to travel wherever they please.

Finally, as Daniel Davis and Frances Garcia argue at The National Interest scaling back the Obama reforms to U.S. engagement with Cuba is the wrong way to try to make things better for the Cuban people:

Cuba has already announced that Raúl Castro will step down as president on February 24 of next year. The heir apparent, fifty-seven-year-old Miguel Díaz-Canel, has already been announced. According to press reports, Díaz-Canel is a modern-thinking person who genuinely cares about the people. Many Cubans—especially the millennial generation—are very hopeful that he will institute positive changes in the economy and increase freedoms for the people. There is a clear hunger for more liberty and advanced economic opportunity, and the Trump administration can take advantage of that to propel positive change.

Instead of greeting Díaz-Canel next year with demands and threats of increased sanctions, President Trump should hold out the possibility of increased cooperation and expanded trade. The Cuban form of government is never going to change because the United States instructs or demands it to do so. Such attempts will almost certainly have the opposite effect.

Cuba represents no threat of any kind to the United States. We risk nothing by expanding engagement and cooperation with Cuba, yet doing so substantially increases our chances of accomplishing American goals of fostering democracy. Rolling back the current opening will make it less likely that Cuban officials will reform, increases the likelihood of preventing improved quality of life for regular Cubans, and unnecessarily prevents the expansion of American business abroad. We therefore urge the Trump administration and Congress to seize this opportunity to foster democracy from within Cuba.

Cuba represents no threat of any kind to the United States. We risk nothing by expanding engagement and cooperation with Cuba, yet doing so substantially increases our chances of accomplishing American goals of fostering democracy. Rolling back the current opening will make it less likely that Cuban officials will reform, increases the likelihood of preventing improved quality of life for regular Cubans, and unnecessarily prevents the expansion of American business abroad. We therefore urge the Trump administration and Congress to seize this opportunity to foster democracy from within Cuba.

Instead of creating more opportunity for freedom to flourish in Cuba, Trump is handing a victory to the hardliners. All because of a desire to pander to a shrinking minority of voters in Miami.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Mikey says:

    This will benefit Russia, of course, because as the U. S. pulls back from Cuba, Russia will step in. They will increase influence in Cuba, Cuba will become a market for Russian oil (they are starting to ship oil there already), maybe they’ll even re-open a Russian military base or two.

    I suppose there have been foreign policy decisions Trump has made that do not provide some great benefit to Russia, but they are few and far between.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  2. george says:

    This is beyond silly (which is of course par for the course for Trump).

    One thing I never understood is the rational behind banning trade with Cuba in the 70’s and 80’s, but no bans with trade against the USSR. Did they really expect anyone to believe that Cuba was more dangerous than the Soviet Union? I can see the discussion in the White House right now – the Soviet Union has nukes and a huge army, but we can handle that, so we’ll continue trade. But Cuba? They’re dangerous, there’s no way we can allow trade with them.

    The real reason of course has always been the same – votes in Florida.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  3. dennis says:

    It is time for us to admit that Republican policies are regressive and antiquated. The world is steadily moving on, but here we are, with our exceptional selves.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 1

  4. KM says:

    There was something on FOX last night about Trump demanding Cuba hand over a cop-killer. My first thought was, if we have no diplomatic ties (including a treaty to extradite) how the hell do you plan on making that happen? Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

    My second thought that would be a hell of a business – “escorting” individuals out to international waters on a ferry to meet a larger ship regularly bound for an openish Cuba. A three hour cruise if you will that asked no questions about why you’d need to be getting there ASAP. With no extradition, Cuba would quickly be a “must see tourist attraction” and Florida’s rep would get even more skeevy. All because Trump wants to kiss some voter ass that won’t matter for much longer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  5. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Everything, for Trump, seems to boil down to KRH: Keeping Russia Happy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  6. Bill says:

    @Mikey:

    One thing I never understood is the rational behind banning trade with Cuba in the 70’s and 80’s, but no bans with trade against the USSR.

    It was politics. With a rabid anti-Castro community in Florida local congressmen who were also prominent Democratic committee chairmen supported the trade ban. Namely Dante Fascell of Foreign Relations, Claude Pepper of Rules, and Foreign Relations subcommittee Chairman Dan Mica. Mica was my congressman at the time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  7. Gustopher says:

    As Cuba approaches the transition from Raul Castro to Diaz-Canel, we should be more engaged with Cuba’s government and Cuba’s people. Regime change is a moment of vulnerability, where our influence will be greater.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @Bill: And the sugar lobby.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. michael reynolds says:

    Trump’s analysis goes like this:

    1) Will it hurt Obama’s legacy?
    2) Will Vlad pat me on the head and keep the piss tapes and the dirty loans secret?
    3) Can I draw a big crowd to cheer me?

    He has zero interest in policy. And he has that lack of interest because, ladies and gentlemen, he’s fwcking stupid.

    When Trump first came along I said he was stupid and basically no one agreed – because he has money, and Americans, even the farthest Left, don’t quite get that Money ≠ IQ (or virtue.) Now, two years later, it’s gradually becoming common wisdom.
    Max Boot among others, agrees:

    I’m starting to suspect that Donald Trump may not have been right when he said, “You know, I’m like a smart person.” The evidence continues to mount that he is far from smart — so far, in fact, that he may not be capable of carrying out his duties as president.

    There is, for example, the story of how Trump met with the pastors of two major Presbyterian churches in New York. “I did very, very well with evangelicals in the polls,” he bragged. When the pastors told Trump they weren’t evangelicals, he demanded to know, “What are you then?” They told him they were mainline Presbyterians. “But you’re all Christians?” he asked. Yes, they had to assure him, Presbyterians are Christians. The kicker: Trump himself is Presbyterian.

    After the election people were saying we liberals need to stop calling Trumpies stupid. The problem with that is: they’re stupid. Trump is stupid, and the people who voted for him are stupid.

    The WaPo has an in-depth poll of rustics – small town, Trump-lovin’ folks who we are meant to feel sorry for because there is no factory paying $50 an hour in Cowfart, Iowa. The reality is that support for Trump has only a weak correlation with economics issues, and an overwhelming correlation with fear of the other, close-mindedness and a bizarre sense of cultural and racial victimization and entitlement.

    The largest fissures between Americans living in large cities and those in less-dense areas are rooted in misgivings about the country’s changing demographics and resentment about perceived biases in federal assistance, according to the poll.

    Rural residents are nearly three times as likely (42 percent) as people in cities (16 percent) to say that immigrants are a burden on the country.

    “They’re not paying taxes like Americans are. They’re getting stuff handed to them,” said Larry E. Redding, a retired canning factory employee in Arendtsville, Pa. “Free rent, and they’re driving better vehicles than I’m driving and everything else.”

    They, like Trump, believe things which are demonstrably untrue. Not matters of opinion, but demonstrably untrue. In a world where facts are available via any internet connection, rural America remains resolutely wrong. What kind of people ignore reality in favor of victim fantasies and vague resentments against people they know nothing about? What kind of people think every little burg in the middle of nowhere should have high-paying jobs within walking distance? What kind of people think Sharia law is coming to Indiana? What kind of people vote for an obvious con-man? Stupid people.

    Stupid. People.

    I don’t want to leave the impression that I despise stupid people. I know some stupid people, even love a few. None of us creates his own IQ anymore than we create our own eye color. The problem is that stupidity has been weaponized by the GOP. They are now deliberately choosing the path of stupid, because stupid elects Republicans. The fact that it is terribly damaging to the United States is irrelevant.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  10. Slugger says:

    The policy that the US had toward Cuba resulted in Fidel Castro never missing a meal and dying at great age in a bed with the finest of expensive cotton sheets. That is what the scoreboard shows. Now we are determined to return to those policies. Why does Trump love Fidelism?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  11. CSK says:

    @Slugger:

    Because he has an affinity for dictators, autocrats, and tyrants: Putin, Duterte, Erdogan, and even Kim Jong Un have all received favorable mention from him.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  12. CSK says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Whoa there. I was saying Trump was a moronic buffoon from the get-go. 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  13. Joe says:

    Under Mr. Trump’s directive, the Treasury and Commerce Departments will have 30 days to begin writing new travel and commercial regulations.

    I laughed when I read this in the paper (yeah, I still get the paper). So typical Trump. “Been planning for months.” “Totally focused.” But, as usual, homework not done. Just a promise to get it done later. Like publishing tax returns, repealing and replacing Obama Care, fixing tax code and rebuilding infrastructure. “But I am hereby signing this document in real dark sharpie pen promising to do my homework really soon! #MAGA”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. Joe says:

    @michael reynolds:

    When Trump first came along I said he was stupid and basically no one agreed

    That would make me no one. Really hurtful, buddy. Really hurtful. Especially after all the up votes.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  15. Bill says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What kind of people vote for an obvious con-man? Stupid people.

    Michael, get over yourself. People make mistakes all the time, that doesn’t make them all stupid. My wife voted for Trump, I disagreed with her. She isn’t stupid. You are being stupid because you’re lumping all types of people in one group.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 8

  16. al-Ameda says:

    This is indeed a three-fer for Trump:

    (1) it satisfies a Republican desire to purge (Soviet style) everything to do with the Obama presidency,

    (2) Trump panders to a Republican-preferred base – Cuban Americans

    (3) Trump gets to preen and pimp his so-called deal making abilities

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. CSK says:

    Two interesting tidbits from Trump World:

    1. Mangolini wants to veto the Russia sanctions package the senate passed 98-2.

    2. Sheriff David Clarke has decided to rescind his acceptance of a job with Homeland Security.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Slugger says:

    BTW, while reducing trade restrictions might benefit non-regime small businesses in Cuba, there is also some chance of benefit for Americans.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28348561
    The Cubans have been working on cancer treatments, and investigators at Roswell Park want to study the Cuban product.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  19. michael reynolds says:

    @Bill:
    There is not a single rational reason to vote for Trump, unless you assume a level of underlying ignorance sufficiently profound that it’s either a reflection of a genetic condition or a deliberate lifestyle choice. Either way it’s stupidity. Also of course a complete absence of imagination and empathy, which take us back to stupid. And finally a degree of reckless indifference that takes us right back to lack of imagination which gets us back to stupid.

    There is not an HR department in any corporation on earth outside of the mafia which, looking at the resumes of Trump and Hillary, would have chosen Trump. Not one. 46% of American voters made a choice so clearly asinine that had any HR manager made it, she’d be fired.

    Trump has gone from zero to Nixon in four fwcking months, I’m sorry, don’t tell me that wasn’t a stupid vote. This is a disaster brought to us all by the 46% who were so dense they missed a flashing red light the size of the death star.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  20. george says:

    @michael reynolds:

    That’s all correct. But 95% of people don’t vote as if they’re hiring someone. They vote for their team. As I’ve said, your team’s quarterback might be an asshole who couldn’t throw a spiral to save his life and would miss an open receiver five yards away, but he’s still your team’s quarterback.

    Almost everyone I talked to who voted for Trump falls into that category. A lot of them happily admitted Hillary was better. It didn’t matter, because she was on the wrong team. And that’s whats killing politics.

    Is that stupid? Absolutely. In fact, its downright insane. But that’s the reality, and that’s what’s got to be beaten in 2018 and 2020. Are those 95% accessible? Probably not, their votes are pre-determined. Its the other 5% in play that determine elections. The trick is to find out what will get those 5% to vote.

    Or I suppose, just looking at the numbers, 40% of registered voters didn’t vote at all, and haven’t for decades. Even getting a few percentage points of those will do nicely. That’s what Obama did … which gets me back to my hobby horse, charisma. Because so many votes are pre-determined by team jersey, charisma is vital, because that’s what it takes to get a few percent of non-voters (by far the largest group out there, bigger than Dem or GOP set voters) to the polling stations.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  21. Davebo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    What’s the difference between a chickpea and a garbanzo bean?

    Trump has never had a garbanzo bean on his face.

    Da bump bump!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. CSK says:

    Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow has told Jake Tapper that Trump is NOT being investigated, despite the fact that Trump Tweeted that he IS being investigated.

    Sekulow claim that Trump was just responding to the Washington Post story.

    Yeah, yeah, I know.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  23. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    You should have stopped reading at “Sekulow” 😀

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  24. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    I read the story, then watched the clip. The expression on Tapper’s face is priceless. He keeps reminding Sekulow that the president said: “I am under investigation,” and Sekulow keeps responding that Trump was reacting to the WaPo story, definitely NOT stating that he was under investigation.

    For sheer irrational idiocy, it can’t be beat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. Mikey says:

    @CSK:

    For sheer irrational idiocy, it can’t be beat.

    That should be the advertising slogan of the Trump administration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  26. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    Jay is like the kid who walks onto a golf course, despite having never played golf before, and pulls a hole in one on his first tee shot.

    The kid thinks that makes him an expert golfer. Everybody else knows he once just got exceedingly lucky – and will spend the rest of his life smacking triple bogeys.

    I’m not even sure why people bother asking him about the time of day, much less about the law. He’s an abject moron.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  27. CSK says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    What do you want to bet that tomorrow Trump calls Lester Holt and tells Holt that he, Trump, is under investigation?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @CSK:

    LOL, maybe he’ll be making a drop-in over at The View?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  29. CSK says:

    @Mikey:

    Buy two idiots, get one free.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  30. CSK says:

    Here’s what Sekulow told Chris Wallace this morning:

    1. Trump is under investigation.
    2. Trump is not under investigation.
    3. I don’t know if Trump is under investigation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  31. Surreal American says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    @CSK:

    Sekulow should stick to delivering talking points on the Fox NewsHannity/Salem Radio venues.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. KM says:

    @Slugger:
    I know people working on that. They are PISSED, especially those who voted for Trump. This is absolutely not in the best interests of America and he’s gonna have to come up with some serious tap dancing with the public if it even remotely starts to pan out. MAGA my ass.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. KM says:

    @Bill:
    Everyone is stupid at some point in their lives. Jeff Foxworthy’s definition of redneck applies: “a glorious absence of sophistication” that can be temporary or lifelong. As such, Stupid Moments are an inevitable part of life. The only real shame in them is the refusal to admit that they happened and that the individual had one hell of a brain fart. It doesn’t necessarily speak to the character of a person that they did something stupid the same way a terrible person can do excellent community work or a wonderful person can occasionally shoplift little items.

    Falling for a con man, either by swallowing his premise whole or going along with the shtick for other reasons, is definitely a Stupid Moment. You can give any excuse or justification to feel better about it but the Stupid Moment happened, fallout is occurring and denying it only makes damage control even harder. Getting pissed off or offended when said Stupid Moment gets pointed out misses the point – people are not “making fun” of you to be cruel, they are attempting to get you to understand your error so it doesn’t happen again.

    Sorry to say, your wife had a Stupid Moment. She was being stupid then. Question is, is she going to continue to be stupid when it counts?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  34. george says:

    @KM:

    Everyone is stupid at some point in their lives.

    Some of us several times a day (in everything from parenting to work to not exercising as much as we should). Sometimes it takes years to discover how stupid we were – the saying “if I knew then what I know now” was coined for a reason.

    I guess its not surprising that people will be stupid in their politics, given that most of us have episodes of stupidity in every other aspect of our lives. And most people place politics beneath a hundred other things in importance – I’d be surprised if on average ten minutes is spent thinking on how to vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. CSK says:

    @george:

    A lot of voting–at least in the greater Boston area–is reflexive, and based not on ideology but on tribal affiliation. If you’re an urban white blue-collar ethnic, you vote for the Democrat–and then go home and complain ceaselessly about how the liberals are giving all your hard-earned money to the blacks and Hispanics and welfare recipients. You vote for the Democrat ONLY because your immigrant grandpa–from Ireland, Poland, Italy–was unwelcome in the Massachusetts Republican party, which wanted to remain the exclusive purview of WASPs.

    Of course, the fact that Trump won the Mass. Republican primary by the biggest margin in any state would appear to undercut what I’m saying. But in the general, the vast majority of them went back to Clinton.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  36. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @michael reynolds: What makes you think that the mafia would make a hiring decision that preferred Trump in any position other than payer of protection money?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    @HarvardLaw92: When did Jay Sekulow hit this hole in one you’re talking about? My mom was a contributor to the ACLJ for years, and all I can remember was her telling me how the ACLJ was fighting such a good fight and how it was such a shame that the liberal Federal Courts system was so adamant about not protecting the rights of the ACLJ clients.

    The only cases that I, personally, can remember that they won were cases in which the ACLU either came on as co-counsel or filed amicus curiae briefs. (And yet my mom never felt that she should thank the ACLU for their help. Hmmmm…)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  38. David M says:

    You know, after the epic freedom-gasm from the right during Obama’s presidency, you would think they would care more in situations like this where they are actually losing the freedom to travel where they want.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. CSK says:

    Gawd, Trump is still bragging on Twitter about that stupid Rasmussen poll.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  40. george says:

    @David M:

    This seems to have occurred to some conservatives, going by a few conservative websites – there are a few posts basically saying the gov’t has no business saying where they can and cannot travel.

    A few more are upset that it means the Chinese will get any business opportunities opening in Cuba.

    But obviously none of the dissenters live in Florida. Florida conservatives seem solidly behind Trump on this issue. As before, its all about the Florida vote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0