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Little Elian Gonzalez comes back to haunt Barack Obama

Elian Gonzalez.

Remember him?

Maybe you remember his terrified picture here, when he was seized by U.S. federal agents in 2000 to be returned to Cuba as an illegal immigrant during the Clinton administration.Six-year-old Cuban refugee Elian Gonzalez is seized by federal agents in Miami 2000 to be returned to Cuba

Elian was a Cuban refugee who made the perilous crossing from his homeland to the United States, losing his mother to the ocean in the process.

Attorney General Janet Reno decided in the spring of 2000 that the six-year-old boy must be returned to Cuba and his father.

And with that, Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore kissed Florida goodbye in that fall's election, which was decided by -- do you remember how many? -- 537 votes.

Well, Elian -- or his cause -- is back in the news this weekend. As Democratic presidential nominee-to-be Barack Obama spoke to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami, dozens of Elian protesters demonstrated nearby.

Obama foreign policy adviser Greg Craig represented Elian's father in the custody dispute that returned the child to the communist island. Eric Holder, a member of Obama's vice-presidential selection team, was deputy U.S. attorney general in Bill Clinton's administration when government agents seized Elian from his relatives' home in Miami's Little Havana.

Our colleague Mark Silva over at the Swamp has the latest chapter in the moving story that still sends shivers of shame down some American spines.

-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Alan Diaz / AP

Comments () | Archives (16)

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Oh how ridiculous. Get over it already. The kid was reunited with his father as it should have been.

This has nothing to do with Barack Obama you losers!

Obama is no JFK.
JFK was a leader of the world's effort to end tyrany as President and before. He led efforts to liberate people from communist slavery. On the other hand, Obama surrounds himself with advisors who forcibly return people to tyrany.
The differences between JFK and Obama are clear. JFK was a war hero who's battlefield wounds he carried for life. Obama is an Ivy League lawyer. JFK was an experienced political leader. Obama is a Chicago politician. JFK made one of the largest tax decreases in history. Obama wants to increase taxes. JFK militarily stood-up against our enemies. Obama wants to meet with them. JFK changed the world. Obama sells change for political advantage. Obama is no JFK.

I had forgotten that picture. It reminds of a scene from Reno 911. Or perhaps that picture is what inspired Reno 911.


Would the people protesting be against Hillary Clinton as well? I presume they would since Bill Clinton was president at the time this all happened.

You know the Clinton era, forget all the good that happened, relive the minimally bad.

Andrew Malcom's article shows the subtlety of opinion making in the media.

Elian Gonzalez was not "returned to the communist island" but rightfully so to his father who born and raised in Cuba chooses to live there.

What is missing is the blog article is the outrage of the stolen election from Al Gore.

Despite the Elian case and the cessation of vote count in Miami-Dade, Mr. Gore "lost" by only 537 votes.

I think that the lesson from the Elian case is how a hand full of extremist used a child for their own political gain, corrupted familial ties, ignore the illegality of their own actions and demonized those who stood for right and justice.

Sadly what should be emphasized is not that the child was "returned to the communist island" nor the persons who stood for the child's rights but the removed family who tried to separate the child from the father and the current Senator Mel Martinez who then paraded the child in Disneyworld while the father was struggling to regain his son.

Milton Sanchez- Parodi, MD

What on earth does/did Barack Obama have to do with the Elian Gonzalez mess? Further, how many of you would be content with a foreign government taking your child away from you? Returning him to his Dad was a no-brainer!

As far as Obama talking with our enemies, maybe you haven't noticed but, kicking the crap out of them, militarily, doesn't seem to work anymore (Iraq for example). Our country is long overdue for a leader with the maturity to resolve differences without sacrificing the lives of our young people.

How can you say it has nothing to do with Obama? Who he selects as his advisors has everything to do with Obama!

It shows people his lack of judgement. If he claims he is running for President based on his sound judgement, then his judgement is what we will be looking at!

Oops, I forgot, we're just supposed to consider his judgement as good, because he said so! We're not supposed to look at his decisions and actually decide for ourselves.

Good comments. However, Mr. Malcolm, what has ever become of the young Elian? Is he a university student, an entreprenuer, a small business owner, in the military, married, single...? In lew of his legacy he left behind for the short time he was here and all the bruhaha that went with it, I was simply curious...

Just recently in the news: Elian is 14 and just become a member of the Young Communists League. He will most likely be going to university as he has lived a life of special privledge, a life not available to normal Cuban children. Castro dragged him out at all kinds of events, like a show monkey, to illustrate how much better life is in Cuba. But he will not become an entreprenuer, or a small business owner unless the Party says so. He may be impressed in the military if troops are needed to unstablize Angola or bring in the poppy crop in Venezuala. His life belongs to the state, and Castro is his father. His mother died trying to escape Castro and his abusive birth-father. Janet Reno dishonored her. But, it's OK to dishonor a woman if she is not a part of a voting block one can count on, not a part of the Change we all can count on. Perhaps whether trained or not Elian can be Michael Moore's doctor when Moore finally flies to Cuba for his quadruple bypass. Let's hope so.

Top of the Ticket is a wishing well of journalism for those who dislike Obama for any reason, real or imagined. Any thing positive and more importantly substantive regarding Obama, his campaign, his message, are rarely covered in a positive way or with a positive slant. The majority of these brief blogs and even in the title themselves, have been consistently biased against Obama. This Elian story is just another blog in a long line of stories to try and dismiss Obama. Anyway, if the father and son (Elian) change their minds about Cuba, they can file for asylum and would get preferential treatment here, enabling them to 'cut in front of the immigration line' at the U.S. embassy.

So, get over it, both with Elian and 'Gore vs Bush 2000'.

Get Over It seems to be all Obama have to say nowadays: get over Elian, get over the primary Clinton supporters, get over me voting for the FISA bill...
I for one have gotten over Mr O' for good.

What amazes me is the number of people who are angry that this child was reunited with his father. Come on people! If your child was taken to a foreign country (irresponsibly in this case) by your spouse or former spouse, wouldn't you want your child back if something happened like this? The hypocrisy people exhibit is astounding to me. When the parent is "fit" the child should be reunited whether that parent lives in communist Cuba or the Christian Republic of the United States.

I have never forgotten about Elian Gonzalez. If it wasn't for his completely selfish and horrible relatives he would have been returned to his father right away.

Gore would have been president, and we'd never have gotten into the mess of the last 8 years.

Of course Elian belonged with his father. The whole story DOES still make my skin crawl thank you very much!

That being said, I don't like actually like Obama and am very sorry he turned down the town hall debates with McCain. I wanted to hear him answer real questions spontaneously and in depth, rather than woo crowds with vague statements of 'hope' and 'change.'

As a result, I am undecided for the first time in my life.

To be fair, let us not forget that if Al Gore had carried the state he was born in, Tennessee, he would have won the 200 election.

It is a symbolic coup d'etat not winning the state you were born in, especially when that was the actual difference maker in the 2000 election.

Most presidents win the state they are born in, Mr. Gore did not, and the rest is history. How ironic that if Mr. Gore had not made all of those last minute trips to Florida and instead courted his home state, he might still have been president.

I very much thought the right thing at the time was to return him to his father--a person who loved him, cared for him, and who wanted to raise his child. The fact that he chose to do so in Cuba definitely has affected his son's perceptions of good times. However, would it have been wrong to keep Elian in the U.S. against his father's wishes? I believe so.

i believe that little elian was suppose to stay in the es because they stated that the dad was not taking care of elian ibelieve that becaude the little boy said that

I was only eight years old when this whole fiasco had started, but I knew everything that was going on. I know that if I was in that situation I would have wanted my child returned to me. But I can also see why his extended family in Miami wanted him to stay. His mother died trying to get him here and it breaks my heart that she lost her life just to have her son returned to Cuba.
I don't understand how Obama has anything to do with this. Yes, he is now our president. But there are other things that President Obama should focus his attention on. Such as the declining economy. Not some 14 year old boy.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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