Monday, April 20, 2009

The Danger of Handshakes?

It's a new week and that means it's time for a new ridiculous argument on how President Obama is threatening you, your family and your way of life. What has he done now? He shook hands with and greeted Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas.

I know, I know...How dare he? What was he thinking? He's "bolstering the enemies of America" (Newt Gingrich). He's being "irresponsible" (Rep. Congress members Judd Gregg and John Ensign). This is outrageous!

Obama apparently expected the excessive whining, and noted over the weekend
the "great differences" he has with Chavez, including the Venezuelan president's
"inflammatory" rhetoric and his unhelpful role in Latin America.

"It's unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a
polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic
interests of the United States," Obama told reporters. "I don't think anybody
can find any evidence that that would do so. Even within this imaginative crowd,
I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests
would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship
with Venezuela."

As Benen pointed out,

What I find odd, though, is the underlying message. Leading Republicans
make it sound as if America's stature is so fragile, it is easily weakened by
casual courtesies at an international forum. President Obama, in contrast, acts
as if America's stature is strong, and can withstand a handshake with a foreign
head of state. Since when does the GOP find it useful to promote the idea of
American weakness?

Obama added, "We had this debate throughout the campaign, and the whole
notion was, is that somehow if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with
governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a
sign of weakness -- the American people didn't buy it. And there's a good reason
the American people didn't buy it -- because it doesn't make sense."

Are they ever gonna cut out the hyperbole? Come on, get a grip.

1 comment:

Cheesefrog said...

Hey, at least he didn't bow this time! :-)

But yeah, I don't really see the problem here. What, Obama's supposed to just stand there with his hands over his ears shouting "La la la, I can't hear you!"

There's always going to be plenty of slimeballs out there running countries, so you might as well just deal with them rather than ignore them- as long as one isn't so naive to believe that being cordial is going to change things. I suspect some people think that being nice to thugs like Chavez will make them be nice in return. My guess- not gonna happen.

Hey, you think Obama might have given a little extra squeeze for Chavez calling him an ignoramus a few weeks ago?