Maybe rebuts is not exactly the right verb. So, let’s see, what word would more accurately characterize our president’s reaction to Cuban dictator Raúl Castro’s blistering attack on America? Acknowledge? Nah, that’s sort of neutral. Wait, I’ve got it: applaud.
If Barack Obama has learned anything in the time that has elapsed between his apology tour and now, it is not how to stand up to petty tyrants on the international stage who would denigrate the country that elected him — twice. Perhaps that’s because Obama doesn’t like the U.S. any better now than he did before his “fundamental transformation” of it.
At any rate, he stood idly by yesterday as his newest BFF tore him — and us — a new one. During their joint press conference, Obama timidly mentioned Cuba’s human rights abuses, prompting the Cuban “president” to take the U.S. to task over its own human rights violations, its trade embargo with his nation, our “illegal occupation” of Guantanamo Bay, and the subject of “equal rights” in general.
To which Obama responded, first by curiously summarizing the remarks Castro had just made:
[President Castro I think has pointed out that] in his view making sure everybody’s getting a decent education or health care, has basic security in old age, that those things are human rights as well.
One could easily quibble with the claim that health care, which is strictly fee-for-service, is a human right, but I’m getting sidetracked. Obama responded to Castro’s broadside with this stern rejoinder:
I personally would not disagree with that.
Sure, Obama went on to say other stuff, but none of it was a defense of the U.S. or an effort to put Castro in his place. Instead, he said:
The goal of the human rights dialogue is not for the United States to dictate to Cuba how they should govern themselves but to make sure that we are having a frank and candid conversation around this issue. And hopefully that we can learn from each other.
Obama concluded his statement by once again apologizing for the U.S. while standing on foreign soil.
And you know I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels we’re falling short because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well.