Congressional Black Caucus Democrats went to Cuba to see what they wanted to see. Not since The New York Times reporter Walter Duranty traipsed around Stalin's Russia, filing cheery travelogues whitewashing Communist-engineered famine, has America witnessed such disgraceful propaganda tourism.
Led around by the nose by the Castro brothers, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver declared, "If there is repression in Cuba we didn't see it." Somehow, the gulags and slums got left off the itinerary. Go figure. The CBC members saw instead a land of milk and honey. Fresh air and freedom. Shiny, happy people cared for by a kindly, benevolent leader. As Comrade Fidel himself put it in his official statement on the visit: "Persons who move on the streets in an active and almost always happy manner do not match with the stereotyped images that most of the times are portrayed about Cuba abroad."
Rep. Cleaver swallowed the Kastro Kool-Aid in one big gulp: "We've been led to believe that the Cuban people are not free, and they are repressed by a vicious dictator, and I saw nothing to match what we've been told." Cleaver unabashedly basked in the cult of Raul Castro's personality: "He's one of the most amazing human beings I've ever met."
Lord, what tools these lawmakers be.
Accompanying Cleaver were radical left-wing House Democrats Barbara Lee, Laura Richardson, Bobby Rush, Marcia Fudge, Mel Watt and Mike Honda. Rep. Rush was enraptured by the tyrant's "keen sense of humor, his sense of history and his basic human qualities." Lee fawned over the Castros like your neighborhood tweens giggle over the Jonas Brothers. The aging dictator Fidel "looked directly into our eyes," she delighted. Where was he supposed to look? Into their ears? He "was very engaging and very energetic," she confided.
Yes, ask the dozens of independent journalists and dissidents jailed over the last six years: Fidel's a veritable fuzz ball.