I find myself just shaking my head on a daily basis at the things the wingnuts choose to freak out over. The latest thing that has them cracking up the faux outrage machine: President Obama shook hands with Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela’s future! A world leader shaking hands with another world leader? Shocking. Just shocking. Right wing blogger Allahpundit phoned it in:
If that was his line on Chavez, and if he was willing to make phone chitchat this year with the leader of a regime whose motto is “Death to America,” go figure that he’s willing to press the flesh with a Cold War dinosaur who’s recently taken the babiest of baby steps towards liberalization…
If he can get something for the U.S. from it, he’s not going to let moral objections to how a regime treats its own people, let alone people abroad, bar diplomacy.
By the way, he also shook hands with Dilma Rousseff of Brazil and Robert Mugabe. Now’s your chance, Rouhani! The man can’t say no.
Fox News and several Republican legislators wailed and gnashed their teeth:
“It is nauseating,” Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., who fled Cuba with her family when she was a child, told Fox News.
Speaking later at a hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry, the congresswoman held up photos of the handshake and said political dissidents would be “disheartened” by them.
“Sometimes a handshake is just a handshake, but when the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like Raul Castro, it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant,” she said.
And Rubio too:
The Florida Republican and son of Cuban immigrants said, “If the president was going to shake his hand, he should have asked him about those basic freedoms Mandela was associated with that are denied in Cuba,” The Hill reports.
“It remains clear that Cuba is the same totalitarian state today that it has been for decades. This totalitarian state continues to have close ties to terrorist organizations.”
This is just fucking stupid. American presidents have shaken hands with, negotiated with, held hands with, taken meetings with and otherwise associated with a virtual murderer’s row of dictators and tyrants. Saudi Arabia is every bit as totalitarian as Cuba (considerably worse, actually), but I don’t recall hearing these people flip out over George W. Bush when he took regular meetings with the Saudi royal family and held hands with them. To be fair, though, Bush isn’t black.
President Eisenhower met with and embraced Franco and Kruschev. Nixon met with and shook hands with Leonid Brezhnev and Chairman Mao. Henry Kissinger not only shook hands with Gen. Pinochet of Chile, he helped put the brutal thug in power. The first President Bush helped put Noriega in power and sat on a couch with his arm around him (he later sent in troops to remove Noriega from power when he proved less than compliant with our orders). World leaders embrace other world leaders at such events, regardless of what kind of people they might be. It’s the protocol. Get the fuck over it.