Marvin Olasky

During the early 20th century Sinclair tried by writing and politics to bring the economics of love to America -- he saw socialism in those superficial terms -- and came up just short in his attempt to be elected governor of California. Sinclair demanded welfare for the poor but thought such provision would merely be temporary, because all people naturally wanted to work. He was wrong.

As was Matthews, who in 1957 became the journalistic instrument by which Fidel Castro -- a "powerful 6-footer, olive-skinned, full-faced," with "extraordinary eloquence" and an "overpowering personality," in the reporter's words -- brought love to Cuba. At a time when Castro was barely staying alive in mountain hideouts, Matthews exaggerated the rebel's military power by writing of "columns of 40" under Fidel's command. (Castro later said he had no more than 18 armed men with him at the time, and fooled the New York Times reporter into thinking the rebel army was larger by having his men walk by him several times.) The end result was that the State Department stopped the shipment to Havana of rifles already purchased by the Cuban government just as Castro was riding his new fame to more weapons and recruits. Exactly 100 years after Beecher's false prediction of civil peace, Matthews in 1960 wrote that he was "quite certain" that Cuba under Castro "will neither go Communist nor come under Communist control or even great influence."

Sentimentality makes for bad prophecy.

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit
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