Tags: Barack Obama | Castro-Cuba | Cuba | alex castellanos | obama | statement | milquetoast

GOP Strategist: Obama's Statement 'Milquetoast' Remark From Weak Leader

MSNBC's "Morning Joe"

By    |   Monday, 28 November 2016 03:03 PM

President Barack Obama's statement on the death of Fidel Castro, in which he said the Cuban people had "complicated emotions" about the dictator, was a "milquetoast" comment from a president "who says he draws red lines and they turn out to be pink and fuzzy," Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, who was born in Cuba, said Monday.

"That weakness, I think, in Obama, he's all carrot and no stick, that one reason Donald Trump got elected," Castellanos told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program, while appearing during an often-heated panel discussion with Starfish Media CEO Soledad O'Brien, whose mother was born in Cuba, and Cuban-American author Humberto Fontova.

"The death of a tyrant, is a little bit of hope for the Cuban people," said Castellanos, joking he is trying to celebrate "by liberating as many cigars from communism as I can."

Castellanos said his parents got him out of Cuba in 1961, when he was six years old, and recalled when he was in preschool and Castro came into power, the teachers were indoctrinating children.

"I was bringing home pictures to color in of the brave Cuban soldier bayoneting the cowardly American soldier," Castellanos said. "At school one day, the teachers asked the kids, us, 'Hey, kids, close your eyes and pray to God for ice cream.' We did, no ice cream. 'Kids, let's ask Fidel for ice cream.' Yay, we got ice cream."

Castellanos said his parents wanted their family to have the freedom Cubans still don't enjoy now.

"There are families in Cuba who have turned over their kitchen tables and tried to float across 90 miles of open water in stormy seas to get out of that place," he said.

O'Brien agreed Obama's comments "said nothing out loud," but also, how Cubans felt about Castro depended on how their families felt about his predecessor, Fulgencio Batista, who was overthrown during the Cuban Revolution.

"My mom is Afro-Cuban," O'Brien said. "Under Batista, her family did horribly. My mom used to always say, 'Under Batista, Batista would only kill you. Castro would kill you and make sure your parents never had a job again, and make sure your children never had housing.' Both terrible, but terrible in different ways."

Fontova, though, argued with O'Brien's contentions.

"Folks, the Castro regime jailed and tortured political prisoners at a higher rate than Stalin's regime during the great terror," Fontova said. "They murdered, murdered mostly by firing squad, more political prisoners in their first three years in power than Hitler's regime murdered in his first six. They drove 20 times as many people to die trying to escape from Cuba as died trying to escape East Germany.

"And we're hearing about complicated emotions? Please give me a break."

O'Brien, though, argued back there were many Cubans who liked Castro because "he gave the finger to the United States, so there are Cubans inside of Cuba, many of my family members who actually like Fidel Castro . . . when he first came in and overthrew Batista, he was welcomed by all Cubans. They loved him. Very quickly, it went south."

Castellanos, though, agreed "evil is not complicated," and under Fidel Castro, "the Stalin of the Caribbean," Cuba was an Island prison.

"You know, Stalin and Hitler had supporters, too," Castellanos said. "But there is a reason people risk their lives, moms risk babies on an open sea to get them out of that place. So there's not much — I would disagree with Soledad. There's not as much complicated."

Meanwhile, he said Fidel Castro's brother Raul, who has been Cuba's leader for some time, has opened up the economy there some, but it is to "rescue tyranny and communism," not provide an alternative.

"They have no money," he said. "They need hard dollars to sustain this regime."

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President Barack Obama's statement on the death of Fidel Castro was a "milquetoast" comment from a president "who says he draws red lines and they turn out to be pink and fuzzy," Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, who was born in Cuba, said Monday.
alex castellanos, obama, statement, milquetoast, weak, leader
Monday, 28 November 2016 03:03 PM
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