Fidel Castro is the last of the Communists. He no longer is the power behind the throne in Cuba. His kid brother (age 82) runs the show. But the movement that Fidel launched in 1953 lives on in his aged body. The victory he achieved on New Year’s Day, 1959, still is politically intact. All the rest have come and gone. He is the last Commie doddering.
Castro was Eisenhower’s nemesis — also Kennedy’s, Johnson’s, Nixon’s, Ford’s, Carter’s, Reagan’s, Bush’s, Clinton’s, Bush’s, and now Obama’s. They all lived in the shadow of south Florida’s election returns, and they swallowed their pride. They all reacted to who he was and what he had done and still could do. He stayed. They came and went.
If there were no Fidel Castro, there would be no Marco Rubio.
If there were no Fidel Castro, you could legally buy a Cuban cigar.
When Kinky Friedman lit a Cuban cigar, and offered one to Bill Clinton, Clinton said: “Uh, you know, that’s illegal in this country. You can’t do that here.” Friedman responded: “We’re not supporting their economy. We’re burning their fields.”
John Fitzgerald Kennedy never got over the 1961 Bay of Pigs fiasco, which was designed by Allen Dulles, approved by Eisenhower, and inherited by Kennedy. He risked nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962 in order to avoid what the press would describe as “Kennedy gets Castroted again.”
In October 1962, the Soviets could have taken out large cities in the Eastern United States without the Cuban missiles. Beginning in July 1961, they had nuclear submarines with nuclear missiles off the coast, five minutes away from Washington, D.C. or New York City. Kennedy could do nothing about the subs. So, their existence was ignored publicly. Missiles in Cuba would be visible; the subs were not. It was all about perception — public relations. The Cuban missile crisis was mainly about defending Kennedy’s macho image, not defending the homeland.
New York’s Senator Kenneth Keating, a Republican, had been warning about the missiles in Cuba for two months. He gave 10 speeches and 14 public statements on this, August to October. The Kennedy administration brushed this off as nonsense. But when the Soviets were about to arm the missiles, Kennedy had a huge political problem. He would look like a fool. Keating had warned the voters, and Kennedy’s flacks had pooh-poohed this.
To understand his dilemma — a political dilemma — we need to consider one of the crucial speeches of his career. It is never discussed in the textbooks, but it established the Kennedy doctrine of the self-censored press.
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