Bill Clinton is in no hurry to clothe the emperor. The U.S. embargo on Cuba may be privately acknowledged as a cold war anachronism, but new measures to be announced by the White House Tuesday reflect a continued pandering to Cuban exile organizations in such electoral-prize states as Florida and New Jersey. While easing restrictions on cash flow and contact between the two countries, Clinton rejected pleas by GOP Senator John Warner to launch a bipartisan review of the four-decade-old embargo -- a proposal fiercely opposed by the influential exile lobby.
The new package is designed to expand U.S. links with the island in anticipation of Fidel Castro's demise in the near future. The exile lobby is satisfied, but critics such as Warner point out that Cuba is getting rougher treatment than even Iraq and North Korea. Except, perhaps, when it comes to sports: The White House is backing plans by the Baltimore Orioles for an exhibition match against Cuba's national team in March. Of course, if they're hoping to thaw Cuban society, the Orioles had better throw the game -- Castro is a notoriously bad loser.