It was a little eyebrow-raising on Monday morning to read a story on Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the GOP chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee under the headline "'Big bad wolf' at the helm of House Foreign Affairs Committee." The story by Mary Beth Sheridan made the headline more shocking. The Post was letting Fidel Castro write the Post's headline.
As the new chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Ros-Lehtinen now has a high-profile platform for her staunch anti-communism. She is attacking abuses by such countries as North Korea, Cuba and China, and they are, at times, attacking her.
Fidel Castro has called her "la loba feroz" — the big bad wolf — and her appointment has prompted warnings in other leftist Latin American countries that relations with Washington could further sour.
Ros-Lehtinen is unperturbed.
"I take it as a badge of honor that tyrants like Chavez, and [Bolivian leader] Evo Morales and the Castro thugs say bad things about me," she said in an interview. "That means I’m doing my work and attacking them for their record."
Ros-Lehtinen, 58, is the senior Republican woman in the House, but a newcomer to the top foreign affairs job, which she got after her party won control of the House.
In many ways, she is the opposite of John F. Kerry, the patrician Democrat who heads the Senate Foreign Relations committee. He is Yale; she is Miami-Dade Community College (though she eventually earned a PhD in education). He is a stiff Yankee; she is warm and earthy, "not afraid of hugging someone who is hurting," Cuban-American activist Frank Calzon said.
But she is no stranger to bare-knuckle politics. Her husband, attorney Dexter Lehtinen, helped produce the "Swift boat" ads attacking Kerry during his presidential campaign.
The story doesn't have the Castro-aided headline online. On the Web, the headline reads: "Ros-Lehtinen brings anti-communist fervor to once-staid committee." Sheridan painted Ros-Lehtinen as personable, with a puckish sense of humor, but she also underlined how fervent she was:
Ros-Lehtinen continues to loathe Cuba’s Castro; she told a filmmaker in 2006 that she would welcome his assassination. Cuba remains the prism through which she sees the world, said several current and former congressional staff members.
"A government that has said one nice thing about the Cuba regime, they are [seen as] an enemy. There’s no nuance, no subtlety. None," said a former staffer, who like other aides interviewed for this story spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid reprisals.
Nowhere in the piece did Sheridan play a Hillary card and suggest any sexism in Ros-Lehtinen's critics. Once again, the Post is using a cowardly anonymous source to trash a former employer and underline the unreasonableness of a Republican. If this is a disgruntled former employee, isn't this quote a "reprisal"?