Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Dictator Retires

James Taranto's review of the coverage of this week's announcement of Fidel's retirement announcement:

Fidel Castro, who died in 2006 (give or take three years), "said on Tuesday that he will not return to lead the country as president," Reuters reports.

What kind of leader was Castro exactly? Reuters doesn't say, but it offers us some clues:

[Castro is] retiring as head of state 49 years after he seized power in an armed revolution.
Seized power in an armed revolution, check. Then there's this:

"To my dear compatriots, who gave me the immense honor in recent days of electing me a member of parliament . . . I communicate to you that I will not aspire to or accept--I repeat not aspire to or accept--the positions of President of Council of State and Commander in Chief," Castro said in the statement published on the Web site of the Communist Party's Granma newspaper.
Hmm, Communist Party. That may be relevant. The story goes on:

A charismatic leader famous for his long speeches delivered in his green military fatigues, Castro is admired in the Third World for standing up to the United States but considered by his opponents a tyrant who suppressed freedom.
So he was a "charismatic leader" and was considered "a tyrant who suppressed freedom"--but only by his opponents. In contrast:

The bearded leader who took power in an armed uprising against a U.S.-backed dictator in 1959 had temporarily ceded power to his younger brother after he underwent emergency surgery to stop intestinal bleeding in mid-2006.
So the fellow Castro replaced was definitely a dictator. As for Castro himself, who knows?

And it isn't even just Reuters. The Associated Press calls Castro an "unchallenged leader," while the New York Times characterizes him as "one of the most all-powerful communist heads of state in the world." (That fellow in North Korea--he's all-powerful, but not as all-powerful as Castro.)

The free press in the free world is bending over backward not to call Castro what he really was: a communist dictator. Why? Perhaps this is an artifact of the Watergate-era notion of the "adversarial press." Journalists see themselves as standing in opposition to their own government, and since Castro was an enemy of the U.S. that put him on the same side. The enemy of my country is my friend, or at least my "unchallenged leader."

This undated photo accompanied the story on Drudge

And had three relevant cartoons