The Audacity of a Barack Obama Handshake

The Audacity of a Barack Obama Handshake

Only in the United States can the audacity of a Barack Obama handshake with another foreign dignitary attending the Nelson Mandela Memorial be misconstrued and turned into a major political issue by political nimrods who just haven’t a clue. And yet, that is exactly what happened moments after President Barack Obama shook the “bloody hands” of Cuban leader Raul Castro.

Well hey I have something to say to those who thought that that non-event was something more than it was – Get Over It!

Look I am not particularly pleased with Barack Obama’s tenure as POTUS but when political opponents try and turn a common courtesy into some sort of a big deal, well, I have to wonder what in the hell is playing around inside the noggins of those small minds. But whatever it is I would suggest it is a good time for therapy or an exorcism.

It was a handshake for Pete’s sake! Nothing more, nothing less. And given the circumstances, well, I believe fit the decorum of the day. After all, when Nelson Mandela was sworn into office as South Africa’s First Freely Elected President he made it a point to forgive his captors and even invited them to the event.

Mandela, unlike so many of our own politicians had the right idea with his desire to unify a peoples rather than splinter them. Quite frankly, certain politicians in the U.S. today can take a few lessons from the fact that Mandela believed no good could come from division. Matter of fact, maybe even some of Mandela’s successors in the African National Congress can reflect a little harder on that point as well. But that’s another story for another time.

Right now the matter at hand is that the audacity of a handshake wasn’t anything more –

than what Nelson Mandela would have done himself.

Enough said?


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  • I guess so. The real question is whether Raoul had his hearing aid off when Obama siad "leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people." But apparently that speech was much longer than the excerpt on TV.

  • Good question but you know I hardly think Raul Castro is exactly the same as his brother either. Sure Cuba has a long history of suppressing dissent but hey they aren't the only ones, just the one the US has decided was a greater evil than say Iran? Russia? I guess what I am saying is that Human Rights violations are not exclusive to Cuba and that the US has saw fit to ignore others in their foreign policy dealings. Now this just my opinion but I think the time has come to open up diplomatic relations with Cuba - it has been long enough. Unless of course we stop some of our being selective when justifying who or not to deal with. Here is an interesting link for you regarding political hypocrisy:

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    There are always the psychotics Kim* and Assad. Putin doesn't seem to be such a libertarian either.

    The Cuba situation is to placate the refugees in Florida. However, since most came over about 1959,** they have to be in their 80s now.

    *I don't know why the Korean War vet went over there, but Kim's people weren't too bright having him read a message in broken English. I don't think it would have even impressed those watching on Channels 24.5-24.7 and 41.1.

    **I had a junior high home room teacher who was a lawyer in Cuba but teaching Spanish. On the other hand, the demographics of that district indicate that while it may need a bilingual teacher now, it doesn't need a Spanish one.

  • In reply to jack:

    I hear you Jack. Now I didn't have a Cuban teacher but I did have a Cuban classmate in Honors History and Economics who apparently fled Cuba with her family and her stories of what was and wasn't the reality in Castro's Cuba were something of an eye-opener for us all. But I also have to say that one detected a distinct bias too as her family was very wealthy prior to (and evidently after) the revolution.

    Still, there is enough documented evidence of crimes against humanity for us to accept the regime for what it is - but again - all dictatorships (Marxist or otherwise) ultimately operate under the same SOP - which is governing by fear and cruelty.

    Changing the subject a little - did you read the article on how wealthy the Ayatollah is by way of er.... everything including abandoned Real Estate? If not here is the link

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    No, but as Mel Brooks would put it, it's good to be the Ayatollah. Also, as implied later in the article, the question whether slapping sanctions on his company actually had any effect, similarly to not being able to cut off Kim Jung Il's supply of cognac while the rest of North Korea starved, or whether that was what really got the new president to the bargaining table.

    Also, the confiscation doesn't seem that different than Hugo Chavez, except apparently Chavez did it in the name of the state and the state had to pay compensation.

  • In reply to jack:

    Mel Brooks would have it right although I am not so sure that that lady whose kids' property was seized and then forced to pay rent would agree. But hey - at the end of the day capitalism can be very very good even for dictators and despots.

    As for Kim's Cognac? Well he is probably telling his starving people that it is really a goodwill gesture for when Dennis Rodman comes a visiting and not for his own personal consumption or pleasure. Bazinga.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    You got the two (out of 3) Kims confused. The recently dead one was the cognac drinker.

    Considering that Mel's line was in "History of the World Part I" in the part on Louis XIV, that was also with Jack Carter selling various rat delicacies, including ratatouille, and The Duke de Money (Harvey Korman) telling the King "you look like the Piss boy."

    However, the ayatollah charging rent has to be a new high in chutzpah (although the ayatollah would probably behead anyone using that term--and Kim III is reportedly also doing a lot of that).

  • In reply to jack:

    Well I guess you got me on being Kimfused. lol. Oh well historically they are all schmucks anyway. As for the Ayatollah and Chutzpah - oh yeah gotta agree there. Well I guess my Kimfusion qualifies me for a little of that "you look like piss boy." Sure feel that way today too.

  • Raul Castro is more pragmatic than Fidel, and over the years since Raul has taken over I have seen an increase in certain freedoms in Cuba; yet Cuba is far from free. Some Cuban citizens are still questioned if they spend too much time with Yankees, and your hotel room is most likely bugged and I know for certain when I have been there on legal trips that hotel rooms are searched, computers read, diaries read and people are questioned. Does this mean that Cuba is the only country to do this? No. So what about the handshake? It means nothing for US citizens, but it does mean something for Cubans. It means that the lead -from- behind leader of the Free World recognizes and approves of the Castro brothers. In Cuba, the creep towards a more democratic government is too slow, especially for younger Cubans. Raul is no "Dear Leader" there. And if you think that Raul or his hand-picked successor will suddenly open Freedom's Gate, it is wrong thinking. It will be like Chicago: meet the new boss, much like the old boss.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Richard you are 1000% correct in your analysis of Raul sic; Cuba and it being identical to our own example of "meet the new boss same as the old boss. Raul, as you point out may be more pragmatic but at the same time what makes their regime of fear what it is won't change. But I am glad you see that this is not exclusive to Cuba and I suppose that is my point when our government (and this is whether the leader of the Free World is a do-nothing like Obama or his predecessors. For instance, Nixon and Reagan both did the unthinkable at the time with their thawing relations with China and the former USSR. I suppose it is a necessity that from a Foreign Policy position that we deal with the devil, if you will. So when it comes to Cuba - I don't see much of a difference to say North Korea or Syria as Jack pointed out or Iran as I mentioned in the post and as such been (and I hate to say it) singled out as being more evil than any of the other evils. Seems to me perhaps this is just how our nation reacted to the missteps of the near-sainted JFK and his host of bad advisers bungling everything they tried to do in overthrowing Castro in the first place.

    As for the dreaded handshake, yeah I get it with the influence anti-Castro Cubans have in Florida politics but I don't think that necessarily extends beyond their state borders anymore. Most people in America don't care one way or the other because we deal with so many of the same kind elsewhere.

    Besides, the biggest point here was that this was a Memorial for Nelson Mandela and a rejection of any man extending his hand would have been a direct insult to Madiba's memory.

    So while I think that Obama handled the handshake correctly "for that particular moment in time" he would still go on to totally blow it when he and UK PM Cameron just couldn't resist giving their testosterone a boost when the hottie PM from Denmark needed to satisfy her itch for a "selfie" at an inopportune moment in the proceedings. So if we think about - that was actually THE story and not the handshake.

    Anyhow I don't disagree with your summary of Cuba past, present and probably future. As always, thanks for your comment.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    On the handshake, which was your original point, Paul Green said on the radio "it was a reception line." Not sure what a politician is supposed to do in a reception line if Kim Jung Un showed up, which would be the prime example of "to spit in his face."

    It looks like the press was yesterday more concerned with Obama taking a selfie with the leader of Denmark, with Michelle making a frowny face, which Diane Sawyer said mischaracterized Michelle.

  • In reply to jack:

    Pretty hard to shake off a reception line for sure - but yes it did shift to the "selfie" with the hotty from Demmark pretty quick. Funny my wife was just telling me about the mischaracterization of the frown. So good timing on your part.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    Anyway, the press has moved on to whether the interpreter for the deaf was a fraud or schizophrenic, although the South African government apparently did hire him.

  • In reply to jack:

    Yeah just saw that on the news; the interpreter evidently saw angels while admitting he was schizophrenic. I also saw that when the SA Government was trying to investigate the firm they hired just up and left - or as they said "vanished into thin air." Which, by the way raises another issue - what were they thinking in terms of security considering this person was on stage with a host of world leaders? I mean the guy could have become a Brutus or something you know? Either way a potential serious breach.

  • In reply to Michael Ciric:

    I guess or hope that with the usual presidential security, multiplied maybe 50 times, if he would have pulled something, security agents in the background would have grabbed him.

  • In reply to jack:

    I would think but all it takes is a split-second - just saying.

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