How about this, Sen. McCain?
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, who hasn't always toed the Republican Party line, says he's hoping to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro and Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez during a Latin American trip in August. Said Specter, "I'm a firm believer in dialogue." So am I. It always seemed to me that it can't hurt to talk with people, even if they are perceived to be your enemies. Even the diplomacy-challenged Bush administration recently sent a top-level envoy to take part in direct talks with the Iranians over their nuclear programs. And Specter noted that his talks with Chavez in 2005 led to a meeting between U.S. and Venezuelan officials that created a framework for cooperation on drug cases. But Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has taken flak from all sides for saying he would have no objections to face-to-face meetings with people like Castro, Chavez and Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Hillary Clinton ripped him for his stance in the primary season, and Republican presidential candidate John McCain has piled on. Raul Castro has given signs that he might be a kinder and gentler version of his brother, Fidel, so there's hope that the ridiculous U.S. embargo against Cuba could be lifted in the not-so-distant future, despite the political kowtowing to the Cuban-American lobby (Florida's a key state in the presidential election, don't you know). Chavez, on the other hand, is a certifiable nut case who once called the current President Bush "the devil," but again, it can't hurt to have discussions with a man who leads a powerful (oil-rich) South American nation. We already have full diplomatic relations and one-on-one presidential meetings with China and Russia, and they're among the most corrupt, repressive countries in the world. If Obama announced plans to meet with Castro and Chavez in the coming weeks, the howling from the McCain camp would be deafening. It will be interesting to see what they have to say, if anything, about Specter's intentions.