Castro made a very eloquent, apparently sincere, almost certainly politically motivated offer to help by sending 1,100 doctors to help in New Orleans. Our official response was to ignore him. How many people have died and will die because of this tacit refusal of aid?
What if Bush had made a positive response? How might it have gone?
"My fellow Americans. America and Cuba has an intertwined history going back hundreds of years. That came to an abrupt end in the late 1950s when Fidel Castro led a communist revolution in that country. Since the early 60s, the US has observed a trade and travel embargo with Cuba.
"In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Cuba has made a historic offer of assistance to the United States.They have offered the services of 1100 physicians to assist in saving the lives of the desperate people of New Orleans. I know that there will be people who disagree with this decision, especially in Florida, where many former residents of Cuba still reside. This decision is not being made lightly, but represents a part of a plan to begin the cleanup of New Orleans by first saving as many lives as is humanly possible. This does not represent a reversal of our policies towards Cuba, but rather a practical decision to gather as many resources as possible to save lives.
"I hope you will support this administration in welcoming the physicians and supporting their humanitarian efforts."
What would the response have been to such a gesture? Dropping ideological differences to save lives. Might it have salvaged any of the bad press the administration is getting? He might have lost a few votes in Florida (maybe), but he would likely have gained votes in every other coastal state.
The cold shoulder given to Castro represents either fear or hubris. Either way, I wonder how many additional lives will be lost. Very sad.