The Bush administration is in the unenviable but not historically unprecedented position of not really being able to accomplish much of anything over the next two years. Bush's credibility is such that a solid majority in Congress may oppose any plan he suggests, just because he suggested it. Also, it is unlikely that any third-rail-type reforms will be considered in a presidential election cycle. And I am generally OK with government legislative inaction. In fact, it would be great if the Democrats chose to pursue impeachment hearings, not because Bush is any more or less a lying sack of shit than other politicians, but because it would divert Congress onto an enforced lassaiz faire path on every other issue.
However, one thing Bush could productively accomplish is to open up relations with Cuba. If we are ready to pull out of Iraq after five years, even at the cost of being seen as "losing," we should be ready to reconsider our cold war with Cuba after over 46 years. After all, our cold war with Russia, if dated from the end of WWII, only lasted 44 years. We trade freely with communist China, and even with communist Vietnam, despite the fact that we were in a shooting war with them more recently than the Castro takeover. And what have we accomplished? Cuba is nowhere close to an anti-communist revolution, and its people suffer. In fact, I think the embargo on Cuba, by turning Cuba's attention away from its natural trading partner the US, causes it to look for allies in places like Venezuela.
I think history has proven time and time again the power of open commerce and interchange in bringing closed, unfree societies into the modern age. I can't for the life of me figure out why we still pursue the proven-pointless embargoes against Cuba except:
- The sugar lobby like it that way
- The Cuban expat community, operating on wounded latin pride, have stubbornly made it clear that anyone who suggests opening up to Cuba will lose the typically tight vote for Florida's key electoral votes.
With GWB's lame-duckracy and his brother moving on from the Florida governor's mansion, no Bush has to run for election in Florida again. With Castro's death (I'm not dead yet - yes you are, you'll be stone dead in a moment) the anti-Castro movement in the expat community loses focus, and might be reshaped into what it should be, that is pro-Cuba rather than anti-Castro. I think these two stars are lining up to provide a unique opportunity to do something about Cuba, and in fact might be a useful step in counterpoint to Hugo Chavez's recent actions.