Pretty big news:
The United States and Cuba will start talks on normalizing full diplomatic relations, marking the most significant shift in U.S. policy toward the communist island in decades, American officials said Wednesday. The announcement comes amid a series of new confidence-building measures between the longtime foes, including the release of American Alan Gross and the freeing of three Cubans jailed in the U.S.Remember how Republicans responded to election victories in November by insisting that they were going to prove they can govern? And remember how President Obama put them in an awkward position with an executive action on immigration, which forced them to choose between placating their base (by shutting down the government over immigration) or wussing out in order to reassure the center (by not grinding the government to a halt)?
President Barack Obama was to announce the policy changes from the White House at noon Wednesday.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, said the U.S. and Cuba were moving toward normalized banking and trade ties. He also said the U.S. was poised to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months.
Well, we're here again. There are two Cuban-Americans in the Senate who desperately want to be president, and there's a former Florida governor already effectively in the presidential race who's claimed to be an honorary Cuban-American. One of the senators is already flipping out:
"This is going to do absolutely nothing to further human rights and democracy in Cuba," Rubio said in an interview. "But it potentially goes a long way in providing the economic lift that the Castro regime needs to become permanent fixtures in Cuba for generations to come."More:
Rubio calls normalizing relations with Cuba “absurd” — “par for the course for an administration that gives away unilateral concessions."— Kay Steiger (@kaysteiger) December 17, 2014
Rubio says Obama is worst negotiator U.S. has had since Jimmy Carter and maybe in the history of this country.— Kay Steiger (@kaysteiger) December 17, 2014
Oh, and of course the Cuban embargo fills right-wingers with a massive amount of nostalgia for the good old days of the Cold War. So Obama's going to have these guys angrily demanding the preservation of policies that are now rejected not only by most Americans, but by most Cuban-Americans, because they can't help themselves.
Smooth move, Mr. President.