If Justin Beiber had returned from Cuba smitten with its healthcare and calling it “awesome!” most Americans would understand. But Iowa Senator and Obamacare champion Tom Harkin serves as chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. He just returned from an official tour of Stalinist Cuba hailing its healthcare as “quite remarkable.”
“Cuba’s a poor country,” he marveled. “But they have a lower child mortality rate than us….their public health system is quite remarkable.”
What Senator Harkin actually believes to be true or “quite remarkable” might be (implicitly) worthy of emulation. If so, this would affect the lives of millions of Americans. After all, Senator Harkin is still a few months away from retirement and still banging the drums deafeningly for Obamacare from his chairman’s seat.
It’s an old story with this Senator, actually. In April 1985 while president Reagan sought to aid Nicaragua’s desperate anti-communist guerrillas, freshman Senators Tom Harkin and John Kerry visited Nicaragua, met with the Sandinista (communist) leaders and returned smitten with their dedication to democracy and their enmity towards the Soviets. President Reagan’s obsession with Central American communism and his aid to the Contras was a manifestation of simple “Mc McCarthyism,” sneered the freshman Democratic Senators. The proof was in a “peace-proposal” signed by Sandinista leader and Castro-protégé Daniel Ortega that Kerry and Harkin “held in their hands” (Neville Chamberlain, anyone?) and read convincingly to Congress. Its purpose was to kill President Reagan’s Contra-aid bill.
It worked like a charm. The U.S. Congress swallowed the Communist scam hook, line and sinker and killed the President’s bill. Then exactly three days later a snickering Daniel Ortega was in Moscow, flouting his Soviet ties for all the world to see. The Castro-protégé returned to Managua with a $200 million Soviet aid package, along with a bigger pledge of arms and Cuban advisors to crush the Contras.
So Congress, rotten egg dripping slowly off their face, reversed itself and finally approved Reagan's Contra aid. Harkin and Kerry ultimately failed—but hey, it’s the thought that counts. They did go the extra mile attempting to aid and comfort communists. The original Sandinista national anthem, by the way, includes the line, “We fight the Yankees –the enemy of humanity,” lifted straight from a speech by Che Guevara. It’s nice to know such an outfit charmed the socks off the current U.S. Secretary of State.
Humberto Fontova holds an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University and is the author of four books including his latest, The Longest Romance; The Mainstream Media and Fidel Castro. For more information and for video clips of his Television and college speaking appearances please visit www.hfontova.com.