The policy change is smart-- and daring-- domestic politics. The Republican takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives in November's election put the gavel of the House Foreign Affairs Committee in the hand of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American congresswoman from Florida and a hard-liner on Cuba policy who once called for the assassination of Fidel Castro. Rubio, too, is a rising star in the Republican Party.
By bucking them, the White House has crossed a political Rubicon.The politically influential Cuban exile community is Florida will not forgive him or, likely, the Democratic Party. But the new generation of Cuban-Americans in the United States is likely to rally around a president who has finally put the national interest ahead of parochial ones to build bridges to the citizens of today's Cuba, rather than clinging to a half-century-old vision of the past.