Fidel Castro died today, November 26, 2016, at the ripe, old age of 90. In response to this (not unexpected) news, Donald Trump Twittered© “Fidel Castro is dead!” That Donald Trump is no threat to Cicero is not breaking news. When the adults came to work at Trump Tower (Do they get double time for Saturday?) they released the following statement:
“Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty and the denial of fundamental human rights,”
Still, Trump didn’t repeat a vow made during the campaign to reverse Obama’s normalization process, saying that his administration will:
“Do all it can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty… 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.”
I’ll add this to the expanding list of campaign flip flops in the fervent hope that Trump remains, wait for it – rational in his approach to governance. All elected officials lie – and for good reason. For those who find this appalling, I suggest you pull your head out of your ass. The nuance is how, when and where they use the unique gift of rhetoric called lying. I have some confidence that the Donald Trump that I know from NBC’s “The Apprentice” will be a bright-eyed student on this subject, albeit continuing education for seniors.
To govern well, and to remain in power to govern at all, is underpinned by a field of study called politics, of course. It would be a fool who would get involved in something that they know absolutely nothing about without first learning something about it. As a businessman, I’m certain that Trump has read and can quote from Lao Tzu’s The Art of War. It’s required reading for the potential billionaire, almost as important as Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in the halls of the Wharton Business School. For the politician, it is Cicero and more relevantly, Machiavelli that Trump must read and understand, insofar as Donald Trump is now the Orange Prince of America.
As we look for guidance from the Trump Administration on the subject of Cuba, nothing will be as succinct, intelligent and true as his initial tweet that Castro is dead. Exclamation point. Yet the passing of this larger than life political figure is worthy of reflection and analysis. In the fall of 1963, the Monkey was the dance craze in the clubs and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World was the top movie at the box office. After two World Wars and a Cold War standoff that brought humanity to the absolute, real possibility that we might all die at once, the American people were in serious need of a break from it all.
While we were looking the other way, our President, John F. Kennedy, was murdered. Had you told an onlooker on Dealey Plaza as they waited to see their President on that fateful day in 1963 that Fidel Castro would outlive JFK by 54 years, they would have rightfully advised you to see a psychiatrist. After all, we are talking about the most powerful, protected office holder in the history of the world compared to the petty dictator of a banana republic.
The fact that Castro outlived Kennedy by well over fifty years is made even more incredible because our government tried – over and over again – to kill him. Castro himself named over 600 attempts on his life. That these illegal assassination programs began under John F. Kennedy, before he was assassinated should not be lost on the casual observer. Let’s remind ourselves at this point what Donald Trump had to say about the Kennedy assassination during the campaign. He hinted that Ted Cruz was involved:
There was a picture on the front page of the National Enquirer, [of Raul Cruz] which does have credibility,” Trump said to a room of volunteers and staffers in Cleveland, adding that the tabloid “should be very respected.”
Putting aside the fact that our new President believes that the National Enquirer “Does have credibility… and should be very respected,” I assumed from his statement that he believes that there was a conspiracy in Dallas and it may have involved Ted Cruz’s father. Not so fast. From what I can glean, Trump believes steadfastly that Oswald acted alone. So in the Machiavellian use of innuendo and smear, Trump couldn’t care less if the hint of political murder was true – only if it was effective.
Manipulating the public’s fascination with the Kennedy assassination is nothing new in American politics and has become a virtual ‘parlor game’ as Donald Sutherland’s Colonel X opined in Oliver Stone’s powerful film JFK (1991). I remember leaving the Harvard Square Theater on opening night thinking to myself that if half of what was in the film were true, I had to change my opinion from lone gunman to conspiracy. Through the prism of Watergate and over twenty years of research since, I’m about 65% certain that there was a conspiracy involving E. Howard Hunt.
With the death of Fidel Castro and the legal force of the JFK Records Act of 1992, specifically that all government documents related to the Kennedy assassination be released within the year, President Trump should allow the American people, once and for all, access to these documents as proscribed by law. He should not quash the spirit of reconciliation and healing that must come from such a big event in our history. Where it was good statecraft to lie to the American people (and the world) about the truth behind the Kennedy assassination in 1963, in the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren, who oversaw the Warren Commission inquiry into the assassination, when asked by a reporter if the full record would be ever made public said, “Yes, there will come a time, but it might not be in your lifetime.” Or Fidel Castro’s. Or my lifetime.
November 26, 2016