President Obama’s overhaul of U.S. policy towards Cuba has advanced quite quickly, and thus far, without any major missteps. Just this week, in a development that seemed hard to even imagine in the recent past, the two countries restored full diplomatic relations. A foreign policy that had failed for a half-century is finally finished.
And Republican howls notwithstanding, the public is on the White House’s side. Consider the latest report from the Pew Research Center:
As the United States and Cuba moved this week to end more than 50 years of diplomatic conflict, public support for re-establishing relations with Cuba has increased. There is equally broad, and growing, support for ending the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba. […]Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Americans say they approve of the U.S. re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, up 10 points since January. A similar majority (72%) favors the U.S. ending its trade embargo against Cuba, “which would allow U.S. companies to do business in Cuba and Cuban companies to do business in the U.S.”
The results were surprisingly broad, even along partisan lines – even a 56% majority of self-identified Republican voters agree with Obama’s policy, up from 40% earlier this year.
A CBS News poll released this week also found broad public support for the new U.S. policy. A day later, a national Associated Press survey published similar results.
We are, in other words, looking at a national consensus that only excludes Republican presidential candidates.
Given the tenor of Americans’ attitudes on the subject, it’s tempting to think at least some national GOP figures would want to align themselves with the national mainstream, but to date, not one of the leading Republican presidential candidates has endorsed the new, popular U.S. policy towards Cuba.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has gone further than most in condemning the administration’s overhaul, though he doesn’t appear to be convincing anyone.
And on Capitol Hill, meanwhile, the Senate Republican majority has vowed to block any nominee the president announces to serve as ambassador to Cuba, regardless of his or her qualifications, simply because the GOP preferred the old, ineffective policy.