Perhaps Obama believes in turn-the-other-cheek diplomacy, though it is hard to find much success in history for such a policy. Perhaps pacifism is in his DNA. Perhaps he shares the indictment of America that is part of the repertoire of every Latin demagogue.
Whatever his motive, in Trinidad, there were not two sides to the story. There were the trashers of America on the Latino left and a U.S. president who wailed plaintively, "I'm thankful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was 3 months old."
But, the Bay of Pigs, had it succeeded, would have given Cubans 50 years of freedom instead of the brutal dictatorship they have had to endure. And it took place four months before Barack was born.
Obama's silence -- signifying, as it does, assent -- in the face of attacks on his country is of a piece with the "contrition tour" of his secretary of state.
"Clinton Scores Points by Admitting Past U.S. Errors," was the headline over Saturday's New York Times story by Mark Landler:
"It has become a recurring theme of Hillary Rodham Clinton's early travels as the chief diplomat of the United States: She says that American policy on a given issue has failed, and her foreign listeners fall all over themselves in gratitude.
"On Friday, Mrs. Clinton said ... that the uncompromising policy of the Bush administration toward Cuba had not worked. ...
"The contrition tour goes beyond Latin America. In China, Mrs. Clinton told audiences that the United States must accept its responsibility as a leading emitter of greenhouse gases. In Indonesia, she said the American-backed policy of sanctions against Myanmar had not been effective. And in the Middle East, she pointed out that ostracizing the Iranian government had not persuaded it to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions."
Sandler wrote that Hillary brought to mind Bill Clinton:
"On a single trip to Africa in 1998 ... Bill Clinton apologized for American participation in slavery; American support of brutal African dictators; American 'neglect and ignorance' of Africa; American failure to intervene sooner in the Rwandan genocide of 1994; American 'complicity' in apartheid ... ."
Yet, as C.S. Lewis reminds us in "God in the Dock," "The first and fatal charm of national repentance is ... the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing -- but, first, of denouncing -- the conduct of others."
Bewailing the policies of Bush as failures and standing mute in the face of attacks on his country and predecessors may come back to bite Obama.
For when Jimmy Carter assumed a posture of moral superiority over LBJ and Richard Nixon, by declaring, "We have gotten over our inordinate fear of communism," it came back to bite him, good and hard.
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