MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Monday could barely contain her excitement as she gushed over how Barack Obama will go down in “history” as the Democrat who got Cube “done.” After a long monologue about the communist country’s history with the United State, Maddow thrilled, “And now today, looking at these images of President Obama and his family arriving in Havana, it is almost unbelievable that it’s been nearly 90 years since an American president has set foot in Cuba.”
She continued, “President Bill Clinton tried to open up relations with Cuba and failed. President Carter tried to open up relations with Cuba and failed.” Setting up the praise she was about to heap on Obama, Maddow trumpeted, “Nobody knows who will get to write the history of this moment in Cuban history. But in American history, we know, in American history.”
She concluded, “In American history, we know that President Barack Obama will be forever the American leader who got done what every other Democrat since Jack Kennedy tried and failed to do. He got it done.”
Earlier in the day, journalists at NBC and CBS praised the President’s “historic” trip. Matt Lauer enthused, “History being made, the President waking up here on Cuban soil.” ABC's Robin Roberts touted the “day of history.” Good Morning America allowed just ten seconds to the arrest of more than 50 dissidents prior to Obama’s visit.
A partial transcript of the Rachel Maddow Show segment, which aired at 9:16pm ET on March 21, follows:
Rachel Maddow Show
RACHEL MADDOW: And now today, looking at these images of President Obama and his family arriving in Havana, it is almost unbelievable that it’s been nearly 90 years since an American president has set foot in Cuba. I mean, that’s astonishing given just how physically close Cuba is to our country even if you know nothing else about our two nations.
But the intrigue and political effort that it took to make this happen is multigenerational. I mean, even this breakthrough that President Obama has engineered, even just over the last few years it still took secret meetings, negotiations brokered in part personally by the Pope. Undercover talks between Cuban and U.S. officials at random anonymous office buildings in Ottawa, in Canada.
The top U.S. negotiators, two of them, two U.S. negotiators involved in initial opening of discussions, they were told to come up with cover stories for those meetings in Canada even for members of their own immediate families. They were not allowed to tell their own families what they were doing on these trips to Canada where they were secretly meeting with Cuban officials. They were reporting directly to the president.
The pathway to today’s visit by President Obama and opening of relations between our countries, it involved spy swaps on both sides and prisoner releases. It took utmost political intrigue and secrecy. And you know what, the results after all of this for this first visit very awkward, including physically awkward.
I mean, today, look at this — at the press conference between President Castro and President Obama, you know, physically awkward, personally awkward, and obviously politically difficult. There were moments of legitimate suspense and confusion and ultimately anger today when American political reporters put Raul Castro on the spot about political prisoners being held in Cuba. He processed that there were none and that anybody — if anybody knows of any they should give them the names and those political prisoners would be released within a day.
Yes, this is difficult and it is strange and the Cuban government and its economy, if not its people, have been trapped in a time capsule for nearly half a century now and nobody knows quite what will happen to the Cuban economy or the Cuban government now that the time capsule has been cracked.
President Bill Clinton tried to open up relations with Cuba and failed. President Carter tried to open up relations with Cuba and failed. President Kennedy was in the act of trying to find a way to open up Cuba, literally as one of his last active if covert international efforts at the time that he was killed. That was he was working on the week that he died.
This is hard. There’s maybe a reason that it took 50 years to get this done. But when the Castro brothers die and when Cuba opens and becomes a new iteration of itself, no longer trapped in the politics of the 1950s and before, nobody knows who will get to write the history of this moment in Cuban history. But in American history, we know. In American history, we know that President Barack Obama will be forever the American leader who got done what every other Democrat since Jack Kennedy tried and failed to do. He got it done.