Robert Novak

Repatriation of the hijackers fits a pattern. In federal court in Key West, Fla., July 10, a Cuban accused of skyjacking was denied permission to testify that he feared for his life if he surrendered control of the plane to Castro's agents. President Bush has waived the rights of Americans to sue foreign speculators who profit from stolen American properties in Cuba. The Justice Department never has sought indictments of Cuban Air Force pilots who shot down small civilian aircraft in international air space.

President Bush has been prevented from getting his choices in control of Cuban policy. Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd has been relentless in blocking confirmation of Bush's own assistant secretary of state for Latin America. Without much effort made by the White House, Bush gave up on Otto Reich, former ambassador to Venezuela, who was instead named a presidential adviser. Roger Noriega, ambassador to the Organization of American States, was finally confirmed by the Senate Tuesday night after a four-month wait.

If Fidel Castro was a fixation for John F. Kennedy, he seems off the screen for George W. Bush. While repatriation to Cuban prisons caused a furor in south Florida, it hardly made a ripple in Washington. My check of Bush policy and political advisers indicated neither awareness of nor interest in what happened.

Lincoln Diaz-Balart refers to the Cubans as the base of Hispanic support for the president and the Republican Party. If this is the treatment given the only minority group that supports the GOP, he wonders what message will be sent other minority groups wooed by Republicans. "When the base is ignored," the congressman said, "there is a problem." More than ignored, the Cubans are simply disrespected, and that is the painful message in Miami.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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