Cuba was the winner on several fronts in tonight’s State of the Union address by President Barack Obama. And I am glad I watched it on NBC because I was pleasantly surprised seeing things people did not see on other networks with regards to reaction and chamber shots.
The first surprise came before the president entered the House Chamber. There was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse D-RI who was just in Cuba this weekend as part of Senator Patrick Leahy’s delegation. He was standing talking with Senator Bob Menendez D-NJ, an anti-Castro hardliner. When they showed them during the speech, seated to Menendez’ left was Senator Elizabeth Warren D-MA, replacement and protégé of Secretary John Kerry.
And approximately 40 minutes into the speech President Obama touched on the subject of Cuba. When he mentioned that the embargo was a 50 year failure and we needed a new approach, applause broke out in the chamber. One of the first people the camera focused on was Senator Marco Rubio sulking in his seat with a pouty look on his face looking like a ‘Marcolito’ – a little boy Marco.
During the applause the cameras focused in on Senator Leahy and Rep. Jim McGovern D-MA, both longtime supporters of normalizing relations with Cuba. When President Obama recognized Alan Gross and the chamber gave Alan a standing ovation, you could see Alan mouthing ‘thank you’ to the president.
But the cameras zoomed in on the person who was probably the only one still seated along with Marco, Rep. Ileana Ros Lehtinen, a Cuban-American and the most despised person in Cuba.
She had this very angry look on her face, and based on her history she was probably wishing she had her in-house assassin Luis Posada Carilles on hand to settle things. I wanted to get a few laughs so I DVRed back to see Rubio sitting and pouting. But something suddenly dawned on me.
The reason Marco looked so small is because all the men around him were standing up and he came about to their waists in his chair. Those men around him were Republicans! They were cheering the president’s words of ending the embargo that has accomplished nothing in 50 years!
We may have more supporters and allies than we think in the US Congress.