Saturday, January 28, 2006
President Bush is a big baseball fan who was once a general managing partner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.
Fidel Castro is a former baseball player who still loves the game.
Baseball is the national pastime in the United States, and it's the national pastime in Cuba.
So we were surprised when the U.S. Treasury Department denied a request by Major League Baseball in December to allow Cuba to send its national team to the inaugural World Baseball Classic because the communist nation's participation would violate the U.S. embargo against Fidel Castro's nation.
Last week, the Treasury Department announced that it would allow Cuba to send a team.
This may not signal a change in the Bush administration's failed policies against the communist-run nation, but it could signal a thaw.
Shortly after he took office, Bush tightened the embargo against Cuba despite growing sentiment in Congress that the sanctions are a relic of the Cold War.
In response, Castro led more than 1 million Cubans on a march in the largest display of anti-American fervor since the 1959 revolution that put him in power.
Throughout Bush's time in the White House, it has been painfully clear that relations between the U.S. and Cuba would never make it to first base even as the Bush administration sought favor with another communist-run nation, China.
Now, even though Bush administration officials deny the Treasury Department's change of heart foreshadows a new approach to Cuba, it seems that baseball has brought the two together.
Castro offered to donate any proceeds from the tournament to victims of Hurricane Katrina, while there are some reports that Bush ordered the Treasury to reverse its decision. It may not be a milestone, but it's first base.
This is a good time for the Bush administration to re-examine its policies toward Cuba.
The U.S. embargo against Cuba has not moved the island nation any closer to democracy or made life any better for ordinary Cubans.
For a man who knows baseball as well as President Bush, he should know when a policy has run out of gas.