] Wes Pruden

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Jewish World Review April 11, 2000/ 6 Nissan, 5760

Wesley Pruden

Wes Pruden
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Consumer Reports



Consistency finds a
jewel in Janet Reno

http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- Whatever else she may be, Janet Reno is consistent. She "saves" children wholesale, as she did at Waco, and she "saves" them retail, as she is determined to do with Elian Gonzalez.

It's tough on the children, particularly when she gives an order for the feds to burn their house down. That's just a risk this brave lady is willing to take.

Not even the defenders of the decision to let the bureaucrats of the Justice Department and the Immigration and Naturalization Service and not the courts decide what happens to Elian are under any illusion about what will happen to the boy when he returns to Fidel Castro's satrap.

Cuban law decrees that Elian must be taken from his family for long periods of time to be indoctrinated into the harsh communism of the Castro dictatorship, and taken from his family permanently if the state decides that his "communist personality" is not developing satisfactorily. The carefree little boy in tennis shoes and Disney tee shirts, whose life in Miami has been suffused with love, warmth and good times, will disappear into the maw of a brutal and remorseless state.

"He is a possession of the state," Luis Fernandez said last week in a rare outburst of Cuban truth-telling. "Once the transfer takes place, no other entity can remove this." A firestorm of protest compelled Mr. Fernandez to complain that he had been misquoted by this newspaper, that he was speaking of the house where Juan Miguel Gonzalez would be staying, not of his son. He was quoted correctly.

(His "explanation" makes no sense, since the house is already an undisputed possession of the state.)

Miss Reno pronounced herself "satisfied" that the father spoke freely in his visit with her. Yet Greg Craig, the president's impeachment lawyer who hotly pursued the Castro government until he got the business to represent the father in America, now admits what was obvious to everybody, that the Castro government wrote the father's "spontaneous" remarks, bristling with venom for the United States.

Bill Clinton, on the other hand, is easily spooked by Cuba. He remembers, with a certain residual anger, that Cuban refugees rioting at a resettlement camp at Fort Chaffee, Ark., cost him re-election as governor of Arkansas in 1980. Now he wants to "normalize" relations with Fidel Castro as a part of his legacy. Sending Elian to a grim life in Cuba is a small price to pay for his own gratification. Mr. Clinton insists that Juan Miguel Gonzalez is a "fit" father, and indeed he may be. But the president is the last man in America to talk about being a "fit" father.

Fidel obviously wants Elian back in time for his big May Day parade, when he can parade him like a hunter's trophy for the crowds on the streets of Havana.
That may be why Miss Reno and her acolytes are so evasive about whether Elian's father will be required to stay in the United States with the boy until court appeals are exhausted. Miss Reno says only that Mr. Gonzalez has "indicated" "indicated" being the bureaucrat's favorite weasel word that he would stay "if he could have the child turned over in a thoughtful, careful way." U.S. law gives Miss Reno the authority to require him to stay, but she continues to let Fidel Castro, through Mr. Gonzalez, decide when turning Elian over to his father is done in "a thoughtful, careful way."

Miss Reno's deputy attorney general, Eric Holder, on the other hand, is itching for a little action. He has been all but contemptuous of the feelings of Elian's family in Miami, and continues to suggest that force will be used to take Elian. (Mr. Holder came along too late in Miss Reno's term to get in on the fun at Waco.) The government, he says, "will do what is necessary."

You can pity the president's defenders, almost. The perpetually befuddled Patrick Leahy, the senator from the Boutique of Vermont, was the best ABC-TV could find Sunday morning, and he looked like he wanted to be in Havana himself, or Newark, or Pyongyang anywhere else.

George Will put the question plainly: "Senator Leahy, you say flatly the boy belongs with his father. Now, clearly, if his father lived in Denmark, we'd all agree with that. The question is, is this a special case? Let me ask you a hypothetical question. It's 1850 and a child escapes from slavery in the South. The Fugitive Slave Law comes along and says, 'send him back.' Would that child belong with his father in the Deep South on a plantation?"

Replied the senator, squirming: "But that is not the case here." (Give the senator a point or two for knowing what time it is.) Then, oblivious of the question, he spins a clumsy riff on Republican fund-raising letters.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.


04/07/00: Here's the good word (and it's in English)
04/04/00: When bureaucrats mock the courts
03/28/00: How Hollywood sets the virtual table
03/24/00: Dissing a president can ruin a whole day
03/20/00: When shame begets the painful insult
03/14/00: The risky business of making an apology
03/10/00: The pouters bugging a weary John McCain
03/07/00: When all good things (sob) come to an end

© 2000 Wes Pruden