Obama Remarks on Castro Death Called 'Incredible Dismissal of Reality'

During Sunday morning's edition of the Cable News Network's Inside Politics program, host John King read part of President Barack Obama's statement on the death of Fidel Castro before asking why the Democratic occupant of the White House did not mention the brutalities the 90-year-old dictator inflicted on his fellow Cubans for six decades.

Guest panelist Ed O'Keefe of the Washington Post responded by calling the lack of that information “stunning” and slamming Obama's remarks as “an incredible dismissal of reality” and “a real missed opportunity” for the president to identify with the Cuban people.

The incident began on Friday, when Obama released a statement that read in part:

At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans -- in Cuba and in the United States -- with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families and of the Cuban nation.

History will record and judge the enormous impact of this singular figure on the people and world around him.

But on Sunday morning, King asked: “No mention in the president's statement about the brutality. Now the president clearly is trying to defend his policy of re-establishing diplomatic relations, but no mention at all of the brutal history of Fidel Castro. Why?”

“It's stunning,” O'Keefe replied. “I mean, everyone at the White House on this looks at the polling and says the majority of Americans want to end the embargo, so they run with that.”

“But I got emails yesterday from Cuban Americans I know and work with,” he noted,” and the stories of genuine brutality and horror that Castro put that island through but the families that ended up in Florida or New Jersey and elsewhere deserve mention by the president, frankly.”

“There's an inference there,” King stated. “'History will judge' and all that … .”

“Which is actually kind of a take on 'History will absolve him,' which is what Castro was used to saying,” O'Keefe noted. “This was kind of a play on that.”

“A lot of people saw it that way, but it's an incredible dismissal of reality that a lot of people down there, in Florida especially, have always thought,” O'Keefe responded.

“They've been very dismissive of that feeling, saying that a majority of the country wants this, there's economic benefit if we engage in this will work, but I thought that was a real missed opportunity by the president.”

Obama's statement also noted: “For nearly six decades, the relationship between the United States and Cuba was marked by discord and profound political disagreements.”

“During my presidency,” he added, “we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends -- bonds of family, culture, commerce and common humanity.”

“This engagement includes the contributions of Cuban Americans, who have done so much for our country and who care deeply about their loved ones in Cuba,” Obama noted.

“Today,” the president stated, “we offer condolences to Fidel Castro's family, and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people.”

“In the days ahead, they will recall the past and also look to the future. As they do, the Cuban people must know that they have a friend and partner in the United States of America,” Obama concluded.

King noted that President-Elect Donald Trump reacted differently to the news early on Saturday with a four-word Tweet: “Fidel Castro is dead!”

He later commented:

Fidel Castro's legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights.

While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve.

As NewsBusters previously reported, “Media Research Center President Brent Bozell on Monday blasted liberals who have fawned over Fidel Castro.”

“Appearing on Fox Business in the wake of the dictator’s death, Bozell explained: 'Fidel Castro has been a darling of the far-left since 1958. It goes back decade after decade after decade where the radical-left has just been infatuated by him and Che Guevara.'”

“On the subject of the incessant media praise for Cuba’s health care and schools, Bozell rebutted: 'It's terrible. A lot of good that education, that health care has done that country. That country is living 75 years in the past.

As usual, people in the “mainstream media” share Obama's fondness for liberals and the policies they espouse regardless of the negative impact they have on the people in their own country.

Cuba Inside Politics Ed O'Keefe John King Fidel Castro