"...what I have also said is that I will be willing to engage in direct talks with Cuba," said Obama. "Now, I know that John McCain likes to characterize this as me immediately having Raul Castro over for tea. What I've said is that we would set a series of meetings with low level diplomats..."Why not invite Mr. Castro over for tea? Tomorrow?
"John McCain essentially wants to continue George Bush's policies of not talking to leaders we don't like..."
The Republicans on this issue are a lost cause. The fact that a complete embargo of Cuba since John Freaking Kennedy was president has not brought about the desired results does not bother them. McCain says that continuing half a century of ineffective policy is tantamount to "giv[ing] hope to the Cuban people*." What he means is that 20 years after Reagan beat Soviet communism to powder, he still judges it to be a winning political issue.
But where McCain proves to be as dense as he is pig-headed, Obama proves himself to be gutless. Embargoes impoverish people. Regular people. Powerless people. They are leverage applied by strong states on weaker ones to make life so miserable in the latter that the people rise up and overthrow the government. But little people starve in the meantime. And Obama is fine with that, because it's better than being called soft on communism or something.
If Obama wanted to bring real change** to Cuba, he would unilaterally suspend the embargo and every limitation on trade with Cuba. If McCain wanted to give hope to the Cubans living in Cuba, hope that they could improve their material lot in life rather than relying on Castro to give them their daily bread, he'd do the same thing.
Neither of them will make meaningful*** changes to the Kennedy Johnson Nixon Ford Carter Reagan Bush Clinton Bush policy, even while bleating about how much change they will bring to Washington.
UPDATE: At least Bush is breaking the old Bush policy, while vociferously denying he is doing so, by "allowing" Cubans in the US to send cell phones to their relatives in Cuba. Hey, it's a start. One cheer for El Presidente'!
* Namely, the Cuban people living in Miami, who make up a significant bloc of voters in a very important swing state.
** He doesn't, which is why none of his "big ideas" challenge or even examine the underlying reasons for any existing policy; they simply paw around the edges looking for photo opportunities.
*** A "series of meetings with low level diplomats" is not meaningful. It's merely employment for young Ivy-league lawyers who want to run for office someday.