President Barack Obama and President-Elect Donald Trump had two very different reactions to the death of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. On Saturday morning, Obama released a pithy yet balanced statement that neither celebrated nor vilified the controversial leader of Cuba's Communist Party. Trump, on the other hand, tweeted a trigger-happy message to his followers that foreshadows what kind of responses we can expect from the Trump administration over the next four years.
In response to Castro's death, Trump tweeted one line: "Fidel Castro is dead!" Our future president, everyone.
Trump's very un-presidential tweet that seemingly celebrates Castro's death is in stark contrast to Obama's very presidential statement that recognizes the Cuban leader's historical and sociopolitical importance and how this will impact U.S.-Cuba relations in the future. Basically, Obama just taught Trump a lesson in staying classy while serving as the leader of the free world.
"At this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend a hand of friendship to the Cuban people," Obama said in a statement released Saturday by the White House. "We know that this moment fills Cubans - in Cuba and in the United States - with powerful emotions, recalling the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation."
Obama added that, moving forward, the Cuban people have "a friend and partner" in the United States." The president also reiterated his support for renewed relations between the two nations.
To be fair, Trump later released a full statement that was less "ding-dong, the witch is dead" and more of what we should expect from the world leader. However, his full remarks were more harsh than Obama's statement, which steered clear of condemning Castro or his Marxist-Leninist politics but claimed that "history will record and judge" the revolutionary. Trump called Cuba "a totalitarian island" and chastised Castro for being a "brutal dictator."
The president-elect did echo Obama in his full statement when he said he hopes the Cuban people can look toward the future. However, Trump failed to give credence to Obama or the work his administration has already done to reinvigorate Cuba after five decades of harsh sanctions. "[I]t is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long, and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve," Trump said in the statement.
Although Trump's later statement on Castro's passing was more in line with what one should expect from a world leader, the president-elect's initial tweet, which still remains on his Twitter account, is telling. Not only does the tweet sound like something a teenager would post on social media, but also publicly celebrating a leader's death is just tacky and unbecoming for the future President of the United States.