Like a pebble stuck inside a shoe, Cuba's Fidel Castro is a constant irritant to the U.S. government.

The Bush administration wants to exorcise the irritant. Castro is a Cold War relic who does his country more harm than good, but the administration's idea is nutty.Television Marti is the weapon. It actually sounds like a clever idea: Beam uplifting video at the Cuban public to explain what's really going on in the world and at home, and eventually the citizens will tire of their freedom-crunching leader.

A five-month test period just ended. President Bush wants the broadcasting continued.

But the test offered no reason to think that Television Marti will accomplish much.

Because of Cuban jamming, less than 1 percent of the intended audience got adequate reception. And Castro was so annoyed with this latest electronic intrusion that he began jamming Radio Marti, also a U.S. government station.

Until then, Radio Marti had been a welcome, respected and seldom-jammed news source for Cubans.

Castro is now thumbing his nose at the United States, telling his people how Cuban expertise outwitted the technological colossus to the north.

Bush seems intent, and Congress seems willing, to underwrite this comic opera.

We'd like to hear senators and representatives explain why it's worth $16 million a year in public money to send squiggly lines onto Cuban TV screens and get Radio Marti jammed as a bonus.