The strangest episode yet of The Apprentice aired last night. Dennis Rodman wore a pot-based cryptocurrency T-shirt and a MAGA hat while weeping on-camera. America's big orange president wandered around a plush Singapore hotel for hours and then waxed eloquent about North Korea's real-estate potential. Then he glad-handed the most brutal dictator in the world and signed away a host of concessions to him.
You might think that Sen. Marco Rubio — self-appointed voice for the oppressed and eternal enemy of strongmen — would have some issues with what went down between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un last night.
But no! Rubio's problem is with the media, who, uh, weren't angry enough about President Obama meeting with Cuba's Raúl Castro two years ago.
I too have concerns about how all this with #NorthKorea will turn out. But I don’t recall all the “experts” criticizing Obama when he met with a brutal dictator in #Cuba who also oversaw a police state & also killed & jailed his opponents. #DoubleStandard https://t.co/j5x6wPiMGb— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 12, 2018
Presidents meeting with #KJU exposed incredible hypocrisy of many in media. When Obama did these things,he was described as enlightened. When Trump does it he is reckless & foolish. 1 yr ago they attacked Trump for leading us towards war,now attack for being too quick for peace— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 12, 2018
There are so many insane fallacies in these two tweets it's hard to know where to even begin. But there's one easy point to note: When Obama traveled to Cuba on his historic visit in 2016, he loudly and decisively criticized the Cuban leader for his abysmal human rights records. He shamed Castro on live Cuban TV and forced the kind of public debate that Cuban people rarely see on state-controlled television.
Did that public pressure make any real difference for political dissidents on the island? That's a separate and much thornier question, but there's no debate that Obama made a good-faith effort to push Castro on his free-speech crackdowns.
Contrast that with Trump in Singapore last night. Not only did he not bring up Kim's horrific abuses — which far overshadow anything currently happening in Cuba — but he also lavished praise on the brutal dictator. Trump called him a "very worthy, very smart negotiator" and "very talented" and even argued that “his country does love him.”
But is Rubio's basic complaint even true? Did "the media" completely ignore the potential problems of Obama's visit to Cuba?
Of course not. A quick Google search turns up dozens of major newspaper stories in 2016 full of vitriol at Obama for his tête-à-tête with Castro — many featuring, prominently, one Marco Rubio.
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It's almost as if when a senator who has cast himself as a champion of human rights takes a president to task for meeting with strongmen and ignoring the millions of people suffering in their police state, the media writes about it! If only there were a member of the president's own ruling party who could call out his insane embrace of a bloody murderer in the same week he viciously attacked America's oldest allies in Canada and Europe.
(Update: After publication, Rubio clarified that he does not think Kim is "talented," though he excused Trump's slobbering over the tyrant as an attempt to "butter him up.")
As for Trump's agreement with Kim, time will tell if it was worth the enormous price the president paid in giving the dictator a world stage on equal footing with the United States. Some of the leading foreign-policy experts already believe Trump was "outfoxed" — and even Rubio says he doubts the accord will actually lead to nuclear disarmament.
Oh well. At least we have Dennis Rodman looking out for the national interest.