“Handshakes matter,” said David Paul Kuhn in RealClearPolitics. That’s why President Obama is taking flak for clasping hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the recent Summit of the Americas. (Watch Obama's encounter with Chavez) A handshake with an adversary can symbolize detente—as did Ronald Reagan’s with Mikhail Gorbachev. But Obama accomplished nothing, other than handing a propaganda victory to one of America’s “fiercest critics.”
Obama’s approach is better than George W. Bush’s “failed Cold War” treatment of combative neighbors, said Matthew Yglesias in The Daily Beast, including Chavez and the Castro brothers in Cuba. Nobody in Latin America represents a military threat to the U.S., so why not just cooperate with governments that like us and be polite to the rest? Let’s hope this isn’t Obama’s “last controversial handshake.”
Everybody wins from the “unholy alliance” between Obama and the Obama haters, said Steve Kornacki in PolitickerNY.com. Obama gets publicity for the “radical tonal shift in U.S. foreign policy” most Americans want. And Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News get to point to the same events, and tell their “hard-core” followers that, just as they thought, the man they despise is threatening “freedom, capitalism, and democracy.”
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