How do electoral politics influence US foreign policy? Look no farther than Miami Dade County and US relations with Cuba. Cuban-Americans remain a highly mobilized electoral block in that state’s largest county, and they tend to be single-issue voters, supporting the candidate who is tough on Fidel’s Cuba. So, you have a history of candidates talking about the need to crack down on Castro to curry favor in the Cuban community and put Florida in play. Do a few hundred more votes in Florida really matter? Well, since 2000, making this point is like shooting fish in a barrel. Recall that Clinton signed the Libertad Act in early 1996 on his way to re-election, winning Florida.
So of all the countries that McCain could accuse Obama of “appeasing,” its not surprising to see at the top of the list Iran (stoke fears of terrorism, still a Republican strong issue), closely followed by… Cuba. Yes, McCain is now saying that Obama’s statements that he would consider loosening the Embargo and initiate talks with the Cuban Government constitutes appeasement. We’ve already been over why McCain’s statement is nonsense. But, given electoral politics, is it any surprise why he’d try to bring Cuba into play?
Or, put differently, you’d have to wonder if the Republican party was already dead (and maybe they already are…)* if they didn’t play the appease Cuba card.
*Really, this parenthetical is an excuse to link to the Packer article that is a very good read on the state of conservativism in America–it is worth a read and deserves its own post, but I just couldn’t resist tossing in the link.