For 50 minutes, Obama sat mute, as a Marxist thug from Nicaragua delivered his diatribe, charging America with a century of terrorist aggression in Central America.
After Daniel Ortega finished spitting in our face, accusing us of inhumanity toward Fidel Castro’s Cuba, Obama was asked his thoughts.
"I thought it was 50 minutes long. That’s what I thought."
Hillary Clinton was asked to comment: "I thought the cultural performance was fascinating," she cooed.
Pressed again on Ortega’s vitriol, Hillary replied: "To have those first-class Caribbean entertainers all on one stage and to see how much was done in such a small amount of space. I was overwhelmed."
Thus the nation that won the Cold War, contained the cancer of Castroism in Cuba, liberated Grenada, blocked communist takeovers of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, and poured scores of billions in aid into this region was left undefended by its own leaders at the Summit of the Americas.
Nor was this the only unanswered insult. Hugo Chavez, who has called Obama an "ignoramus" and Bush "El Diablo," walked over to a seated U.S. president and handed him the anti-American tract "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent."
The book blames Latin America’s failures on white Europeans.
It opens, "Renaissance Europeans ventured across the oceans and buried their teeth in the throats of the Indian civilizations."
Civilizations? Before Pizarro and Cortez, the Inca and Aztec empires these conquistadors overthrew were into human sacrifice.
Evo Morales, the Aymaran president of Bolivia, who is using the race card against Bolivians of European descent, implied a U.S. role in an assassination plot against him.
Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner, who allegedly received black-bag money from Chavez, ripped into America for its role in the 1980s. Under Reagan, America aided Britain in the Falklands War, after the Argentine junta invaded the islands, and assisted the Contras in their war of national liberation to oust Ortega’s Sandinistas.
Again, Obama offered no defense of his country.
President Lula da Silva of Brazil, who blames the world financial crisis on "white, blue-eyed bankers," told Obama that any future Summit of the Americas without the Castro brothers was unacceptable.
Perhaps Obama believes in turn-the-other-cheek diplomacy, though it is hard to find much success in history for such a policy. Perhaps pacifism is in his DNA. Perhaps he shares the indictment of America that is part of the repertoire of every Latin demagogue.
Whatever his motive, in Trinidad, there were not two sides to the story. There were the trashers of America on the Latino left and a U.S. president who wailed plaintively, "I’m thankful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was 3 months old."
But, the Bay of Pigs, had it succeeded, would have given Cubans 50 years of freedom instead of the brutal dictatorship they have had to endure. And it took place four months before Barack was born.
Obama’s silence — signifying, as it does, assent — in the face of attacks on his country is of a piece with the "contrition tour" of his secretary of state.
"Clinton Scores Points by Admitting Past U.S. Errors," was the headline over Saturday’s New York Times story by Mark Landler:
"It has become a recurring theme of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s early travels as the chief diplomat of the United States: She says that American policy on a given issue has failed, and her foreign listeners fall all over themselves in gratitude.
"On Friday, Mrs. Clinton said … that the uncompromising policy of the Bush administration toward Cuba had not worked. …
"The contrition tour goes beyond Latin America. In China, Mrs. Clinton told audiences that the United States must accept its responsibility as a leading emitter of greenhouse gases. In Indonesia, she said the American-backed policy of sanctions against Myanmar had not been effective. And in the Middle East, she pointed out that ostracizing the Iranian government had not persuaded it to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions."
Sandler wrote that Hillary brought to mind Bill Clinton:
"On a single trip to Africa in 1998 … Bill Clinton apologized for American participation in slavery; American support of brutal African dictators; American ‘neglect and ignorance’ of Africa; American failure to intervene sooner in the Rwandan genocide of 1994; American ‘complicity’ in apartheid … ."
Yet, as C.S. Lewis reminds us in "God in the Dock," "The first and fatal charm of national repentance is … the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing — but, first, of denouncing — the conduct of others."
Bewailing the policies of Bush as failures and standing mute in the face of attacks on his country and predecessors may come back to bite Obama.
For when Jimmy Carter assumed a posture of moral superiority over LBJ and Richard Nixon, by declaring, "We have gotten over our inordinate fear of communism," it came back to bite him, good and hard.