In response to Why Castro, but Not Mugabe?:
That’s a great analysis. I’d add the consideration that Cuba is considered more significant to US interests, through a combination of physical proximity, the Cuban expat population, shared history, and the fact that the end of the world nearly began there. Africa always seems remote, both as matters of geography and US national interest. Notice how surprised everyone seems after paying attention to South Africa for the first time since Mandela’s graceful retirement, and finding out how things have been going there. Mugabe is bad news, but he’s someone else’s bad news.
Also, there’s the little matter of communism’s rehabilitation – or, more to the point, the hard Left’s devout belief that it doesn’t need rehab. In the academic environment that produced Barack Obama, Fidel Castro is an epic hero, not a kleptocratic tyrannical monster. Leftists still occasionally point to Cuba as a workers’ paradise, a model the United States should be emulating. The prisoners in Castro’s dungeons belong there, and frankly it’s another system they wouldn’t mind emulating on American soil, at least to a limited degree. Those elements of the Left would have gotten very upset if Obama had snubbed Raul Castro; they literally would not understand why.
Mugabe offers no romantic illusions, no Great Man of History action figure for liberals to add to their collections, careful not to break the plastic packaging of truth and spoil its mint-condition value. And nobody in the White House relishes the notion of Obama-Mugabe handshake photos popping across the Internet with smartass meme-generator text added.