Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 14, 2000 / 9 Nissan, 5760

Chris Matthews

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
David Corn
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Debbie Schlussel
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports



Clinton and the
Castro curse -- AT 73, Fidel Castro has a 9-0 record against American presidents.

Under Dwight Eisenhower, the CIA tried "dirty tricks" as a weapon against the Cuban revolutionary. Our agents tried spraying him with a drug similar to LSD prior to a radio broadcast. The idea was to make him sound nuts. The CIA also tried to poison Castro's cigars with a chemical agent meant to cause his beard to fall out, a preview of later American efforts to defoliate the Vietnam jungle.

With John F. Kennedy's transition to power, the CIA escalated its campaign. Mobsters Johnny Roselli and Sam Giancana were recruited to carry out a gangland-style assassination of Castro. A hit man was to shoot him down in the street a la "The Godfather."

In April of 1961, Kennedy landed a band of Cuban exiles, recruited from Miami's Little Havana, at the Bay of Pigs, then refused to give them the air cover their CIA trainers had led them to expect.

Kennedy and his brother Robert, the U.S. attorney general, decided to get even through a campaign code-named Operation Mongoose. "There can be no long-term living with Castro as a neighbor," RFK wrote in a secret memo. "Get off your ass about Cuba!" he barked at one CIA official, placing no limitations on how the job got done.

In 1962, President Kennedy, operating with the powerful counsel of his brother, forced Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev to remove nuclear missiles from Cuba. But a year later, the 46-year-old American president was still railing against Castro.

"A small band of conspirators has stripped the Cuban people of their freedom and handed over the sovereignty of the Cuban nation to forces beyond the hemisphere. This, and this alone, divides us. As long as it is true, nothing is impossible. Once this barrier is removed, everything is possible."

A week later, Kennedy himself was assassinated by a pro-Castro fanatic named Lee Harvey Oswald.

In 1971, President Richard Nixon hired a CIA veteran of the Bay of Pigs operation, E. Howard Hunt, to run his "plumbers" operation aimed at ending national security leaks. Hunt's selling point was his bitter outrage at Kennedy for failing to give the Bay of Pigs forces the CIA-promised air cover.

A year later, Hunt and a group of anti-Castro Cubans broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate. A week later, Nixon told his staff to tell the CIA to block the FBI investigation of the break-in because it would expose Kennedy's role in undermining the Bay of Pigs operation.

That June 23rd conversation would become the "smoking gun" of Watergate, the notorious tape that would force his resignation in 1974.

Fidel Castro helped topple another American president in 1980 by dumping 125,000 refugees on U.S. beaches. The Arkansas governor and future president Bill Clinton was also defeated for re-election that year when thousands of these "Mariel boatlift" Cubans rioted at a resettlement camp.

The Elian Gonzalez episode could either continue this presidential curse or end it.

Watch how the man in the White House has let Attorney General Janet Reno take the blame for this situation, especially from anti-Castro Cubans here in the United States, while allowing his 2000 presidential candidate Al Gore to position himself as a critic. There's a strong chance that President Clinton's crafty backroom handling of the crisis will free him for a far grander deal with Fidel Castro than this troubling reunification of a 6-year-old with his father.

If any U.S. leader can do it, it's our Bill, the first president in five decades who can match Fidel in both craftiness and luck.

JWR contributor Chris Matthews is the author of Hardball. and hosts a CNBC show of the same name. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


04/11/00: Men who saved Elián from the sea
04/06/00: Caine should coach politicians
04/03/00: No. 2 spots: Woman-to-woman?
03/29/00: Gray for veep and Gore might coast to victory
03/27/00: The secret life of a CIA wife
03/22/00: 'We're suckers for underdogs'
03/20/00: Bush's California dream vs. reality
03/06/00: Scary Gore vs. hopeful Bush
03/06/00: McCain's appeal to 'Reagan Democrats'
03/01/00: John McCain fits a hero's profile
02/28/00: Grading the American presidents
02/25/00: Clinton remains No. 1 issue
02/23/00: Will Ross Perot aid POW McCain?
02/18/00: McCain faces fury of GOP establishment
02/17/00: Citizen Springer
02/14/00: McCainia and the frisky independents
02/07/00: A prime-time primary for California
02/02/00: Clinton's final campaign: Take the blame
01/31/00: Which GOPer is willing to pay for his positions?
01/27/00: John McCain's gay radar
01/25/00: This time, candidates get 'authenticity' check
01/18/00: AIDS dooms 1 in 4 in tiny Swaziland
01/13/00: Complacency might be the campaign key
01/10/00: A choice, not an echo
01/06/00: The role of a lifetime
01/03/00: Dangers in Gore's dirty war
12/30/99: Churchill's fighting words saved the century
12/28/99: Candidate Gore's separation anxiety
12/17/99: Catch 22: Leading candidates don't lead
12/17/99: New Democratic leader on the horizon
12/15/99: Is Hillary clueless?
12/08/99: Taking Buchananism to the streets
12/03/99: Why are we so obsessed with 'spin'?
12/01/99: Donald Trump, 'Sinatra of Steel'
11/29/99: Why AlGore will be our next president
11/23/99: After the fall
11/17/99: Our conveniently forgetful president
11/15/99: Next president: Male, WASP, self-selected
11/10/99: Backroom Bill
11/08/99: Please don't feed the 'pander bears'
11/03/99: Battle of the Bubba clones
11/01/99: Pat Buchanan, kamikaze candidate
10/27/99: The year of the woman... voter
10/25/99: The Curse of the Bubba
10/21/99: GOP gives Clinton his finest hour
10/18/99: Clinton's last hurrah
10/13/99: Rough seas for Capt. Ventura
10/11/99: Gore targets Bradley's strength
10/06/99: Bradley's got the right Rx
10/04/99: Buchanan, Churchill and Hitler
09/30/99: Who'll spin political gold in Golden State — Gore or Bradley?
09/27/99: Here's a millennial checklist for candidates
09/22/99: The biography battle
09/20/99: Buchanan's new book is a must-read
09/15/99: Don't rule out Beatty
09/13/99: The man with the sun on his face
09/08/99: W. vs. Jr. on dope and the draft
The FALN: Hillary's Willie Horton
08/26/99: Bill's guilt fuels Hill's race
08/25/99: The seemingly inexhaustible strength of America's free enterprise
08/23/99: GOP candidates are weak also-rans
08/16/99: Bubba on Bubba
08/11/99: Hillary's agonizing attempts to understand
08/09/99: With warm regards, Richard Nixon
08/04/99: Weicker: real third party is on the Left
08/02/99: Dubyah's last hangover
07/27/99: Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh; capitalism is gonna win

© 2000, NEA