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Saturday, February 23, 2008


Hillary Clinton's flip-flop on Cuba

First posted 2/22, 12:57 pm; updated and bumped

One of the minor differentiations between Clinton and Obama is that Obama calls for minor change in U.S. Cuban policy (reverting it back to what it was in 2004, when Cuban-Americans had fewer restrictions on travel to Cuba and monetary remittances to their relatives), while Clinton calls for maintaining the status quo (with both saying that any other changes in policy depending on "changes" in Cuba which they approve of).

But back in 2003, there was an interesting vote in Congress, in which both House and Senate voted to end the travel ban on all Americans, and then the conference committee reconciled the "differences" between the bills by striking that provision, on which both bodies agreed, altogether. Here's the Senate vote on that bill, which was on a vote to table so that a "Nay" vote was a vote to end the travel ban - Hillary Clinton voted "nay," meaning that at that time, she was in favor of an end to the travel ban, no preconditions of changes in Cuba required. It's interesting to see which Democrats voted the other way (i.e., for the travel ban) - Corzine from Cuban-heavy New Jersey and Graham and Nelson from Cuban-heavy Florida, then Democrat-in-Name-Only (and now no longer Democrat) Joe Lieberman, and current Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid. Barack Obama, of course, wasn't in the Senate in 2003, so his opinion isn't recorded.

Incidentally, the reason that travel ban was ostensibly removed in conference committee was the threat of a veto of the bill by George Bush. Considering that a majority of both houses of Congress have expressed their strong support for an end to the travel ban, a very easy position for both Obama and Clinton to take would be to promise not to veto such a bill if passed again. Neither has done so. Nor, by the way, have the Democrats even brought up the bill again since they took control of Congress.

Update: Reading Fidel Castro's latest column, I discover that Clinton isn't alone in flip-flopping on Cuba. David Brooks' latest column, quoted by Fidel, informs us that "Barack Obama...as candidate for Senate in 2003, was in favor of lifting the embargo." Then again, Obama used to be in support of the Palestinian people as well, as least more than the "average" U.S. politician. The closer they get to power, the further to the right they move.

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