President Barack Obama said pointblank that he knew nothing about rapper Jay-Z and Beyonce’s high-profile vacation to Cuba this month – a trip that caused conservatives to lose their minds by implying that Obama somehow arranged the celebrity couple’s visit to the communist island.
“This is not something the White House was involved with. We’ve got better things to do,” Obama said Wednesday on the “Today” show.
“I wasn’t familiar that they were taking the trip,” the president said, speaking for the first time since Jay-Z and Beyonce visited Cuba. “My understanding is I think they went through a group that organizes these educational trips down to Cuba.”
I’m glad Obama addressed the so-called “Cubagate” issue and maybe this ridiculous assertion that Obama orchestrated Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trip will now be put to rest. It’s no secret that Obama, Jay-Z and Beyonce are good friends, but to suggest that Obama acted as their travel agent is absurd.
Jay-Z didn’t do much to diffuse the situation – and created even more controversy — when he rapped in “Open Letter” — “Obama said chill ‘You gonna get me impeached’ … We don’t need this s**t anyway, chill with me on the beach.'”
Still, why can’t Jay-Z and Beyonce visit Cuba on vacation? It wasn’t a clandestine trip – it was approved by the Treasury Department and the couple toured Cuba in full view of residents and television cameras.
Even though travel is limited for U.S. citizens due to long-held sanctions, more American residents are visiting Cuba through government-approved cultural change programs. Jay-Z and Beyonce are certainly not the first U.S. citizens to visit Cuba in recent months.
And it wasn’t a political mission for the couple, despite what Florida Sen. Marc Rubio is claiming.
“Secondly, I think if Jay-Z was truly interested in the true state of affairs in Cuba, he would have met people that are being oppressed, including a hip-hop artist in Cuba who is right now being oppressed and persecuted and is undergoing a hunger strike because of his political lyrics,” Rubio said during a recent interview with ABC News. “And I think he missed an opportunity. But that’s Jay-Z’s issue.”
So why is it acceptable for conservatives to criticize Jay-Z and Beyonce’s trip to Cuba but they remain silent out about Dennis Rodman’s bromance with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Rodman’s recent visit to North Korea, and his plans to return to North Korea in August?