Heidi Heitkamp's Cuba Trip Was Good, But The Nepotism Is Bad


U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., stressed the importance of exports and research and development at the 2015 Bio-Industry Summit, held recently in Fargo. Cody Rogness/The Forum

In my Sunday column today I write about Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s trip to Cuba alongside President Barack Obama.

Obama’s performance on the trip was poor. “President Barack Obama allowed himself to be berated and embarrassed by the Castro regime,” I wrote. “That’s not just a matter of form. Embarrassing America is the currency modern dictators trade in.”

And Heitkamp’s decision to reserve a seat on the trip as a sop to her brother’s sagging media career was distasteful.

Heitkamp, for her part, imbued the trip with the stench of nepotism. Her brother Joel, a left-wing talk radio host on radio station KFGO-AM in Fargo, was invited on the historic mission. Earlier this year, his sister’s status as a senator got him invited to the pope’s visit to Washington.

Ratings numbers that I’ve seen show the senator’s brother has an aging, shrinking audience for his show. Still, shoring up his career is hardly a proper way for Sen. Heitkamp to use her access and influence as a member of Congress.

Surely there was someone else—a state official, a business leader, a student or an actual news reporter—more worthy of the Cuba trip.

But overall, I think Heitkamp’s stance on Cuba should be commended.

From Trump’s anti-free trade bluster to the “democratic socialism” of Bernie Sanders (a sort of ideological cousin to the Communism practiced in Cuba), modern American politics is replete with shallow economic thinking.

I hope the adherents of these dogmas will be watching carefully to what happens in Cuba as it opens to the the free market. What we will see is an improvement in quality of life far beyond the capabilities of any government policy.

Kudos to Sen. Heitkamp for being on the right side of history.

Read the whole thing.