If you’re running a Latin American country that has fallen out with the U.S. in recent years, or you’re the premier of a Caribbean island nation whose principal exports are tax shelters and LisaRaye, you better come with your “A” game when you meet with President Barack Obama at the Fifth Summit of the Americas. And this week, the world saw a new side of Obama. He won’t hesitate to peel a cap.
Channeling Don Corleone’s sitting godfather to Connie and Carlo’s baby, Obama’s button men—three can-do Navy SEAL snipers—rescued Capt. Richard Phillips from Somali pirates while the president rolled Easter eggs and strolled the compound with his kids’ new puppy.
On his way to the airport, Obama managed to squeeze in a quick speech about a high-speed rail, very much in keeping with his cutting-edge image, but swashbuckling around the world like a reverse conquistador, the president’s challenges were all retro: torture dungeons, angry mobs, Fidel Castro, pirates and dog poop on his lawn.
By the time anyone could say “assault weapons ban” three times fast, Obama’s press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderón was over, and Air Force One was winging its way to the islands. In pretty much every photo with Obama, the beleaguered Calderón had a look on his face that screamed, “Please take me with you.”
Havana Nice Day
Obama is expected to get an earful from the Latin Americans about the futility of the 50-year-old U.S. embargo of Cuba during the summit. But by lifting travel restrictions to Cuba without lifting all economic sanctions, Obama more or less flipped his Iraq War mantra. He wants to be as careful about getting back into Cuba as we were careless getting out.
Before his arrival in Trinidad, Obama penned another op-ed in 14 newspapers and three languages Thursday, touting climate change and economic reforms. But it was probably more aimed at heading off fighting words from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and sidestepping last month’s statement by the decidedly Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva who said that the world’s money woes could be blamed on “white, blue-eyed bankers.”
Freedom Don’t Cost a Thing