Only an American President with the anti-Communist bona fides of a Nixon could have gone to China, the old saw goes — is it possible that it takes a Charlie Crist to visit Cuba? It just might.
Though it wasn’t so long ago Charlie criticized Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jim Davis for taking a fact-finding mission while on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations — “I know when it’s time to visit Havana, and it’s when it’s free,” he chided Congressman Davis in 2006 — perhaps it’s his evolving approach to this Gordian knot of Florida politics that uniquely qualifies him to make inroads towards untying it.
His is a journey, mind you, shared by many Floridians including thousands of second- and third-generation Cubans as well as many Anglo voters and others whose thoughts on the matter have turned from ideological to practical in the decades after the Cold War’s thaw.
A trip to Cuba would also be in keeping with the sympathies of his native Tampa Bay region, which has seen trips led by Tampa Mayor Dick Greco in 2002 and by local leaders including progressive stalwart City Councilwoman Mary Mulhern more recently.
The City of Tampa’s history in particular is coextensive with that of the Cuban diaspora in a way that goes back further than that of many more recent Miami expatriates who take a harder line on the issue — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, for instance. Even liberal Democrats in South Florida tend to be careful on the issue for fear of offending locals, making Charlie’s gambit especially bold.
Such a visit would be useful and frankly, long overdue. Here’s hoping Governor Crist safe travels to Cuba, a country which is properly a friendly (though of course complicated) neighbor and extensive trade partner.