Too bad Florida International University’s latest poll, which showed Miami-Dade Cubans increasingly oppose the embargo of the island nation, didn’t ask respondents just two more questions:
1) Do you favor lifting the embargo only if Cuba holds open and fair elections, releases political prisoners and allows for a free press and labor unions?
2) Does Hillary Clinton need a time machine?
Okay. Maybe No. 2 wouldn’t make the cut.
“I recommended to President Obama that he take another look at our embargo,” Clinton writes in her book, Hard Choices. “It wasn’t achieving its goals, and it was holding back our broader agenda across Latin America.”
Putting aside the debate about the embargo’s effectiveness or fecklessness, just what did Clinton want Obama to “look at” and how? If she advocated that Obama try to lift the entire embargo, as reported elsewhere, it doesn’t make much sense.
Obama, or any president, can’t do it alone.
And Clinton can greatly credit one person for that: Bill Clinton, her husband.
As president, Clinton signed The Helms-Burton Act in 1996 just after the Castro regime shot down the spotter planes of Brothers to the Rescue, a Cuban-rafter aid group. Helms Burton essentially “codified” the longstanding embargo by taking a series of executive orders, dating back to 1960, and making it federal law.
To undo the embargo, it takes an act of Congress — no easy feat with this bunch of partisan do-littles.
“Up until the time Bill Clinton signed Helms-Burton, the president could have said unilaterally: ‘I’m lifting the embargo.’ He can’t do that now,” said Robert L. Muse, a Washington attorney and lobbyist who’s both an embargo expert and opponent.