Shaking hands with tyranny
The Nelson Mandela memorial has given us a couple of controversial images. In the first case, “controversial” means “hilarious.” President Obama got rather chummy with the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, to the apparent displeasure of Michelle Obama:
The President talked Thorning-Schmidt into taking a “selfie” photo, along with British Prime Minister David Cameron, which struck some observers as inappropriate behavior at a memorial service. One of those displeased observers seems to have been Mrs. Obama:
In other news, the U.S. government has announced economic sanctions against Denmark, until they install a less attractive Prime Minister.
Personally, I’d like everyone to be happy and full of good cheer at my memorial service, which almost certainly will not last as long as the Mandela event. Expecting everyone to maintain an air of unbroken solemn gravity for such a long series of ceremonies and speeches is a bit much. However, given that this is an affair of state, the selfie does seem a bit inappropriate.
I’m not sure what to make of Mrs. Obama’s expression and body language, but you can’t blame anyone for finding this little drama amusing. I wonder what was happening on stage at that moment, and whether Michelle was trying to pay attention to it while Barack lined up his self-photo.
The other noteworthy, and more seriously controversial, image was that of President Obama giving Cuban dictator Raul Castro an enthusiastic handshake, an event the CNN crew found highly significant:
The big problem with this image is not the handshake between Obama and Castro; it’s Raul Castro’s presence at the event. It’s long past time for despots to get a firm cold shoulder, but there is a lingering tendency in the “world community” to excuse the crimes of communism, in a way they would never forgive or forget the crimes of fascism. The idea of celebrating a “coming together” between the President of the United States, and a brutal dictator who milks billions from his suffering people while stuffing dissidents in dungeons, is absolutely disgusting.
Obama hailed Nelson Mandela as a “great liberator,” after happily pumping the hand of a man who has all his country’s great liberators safely tucked away in jail, or terrorized into silence.
As for the liberal media grumbles that too much criticism has been leveled at this handshake, John Nolte of Breitbart News nails it with a perfect Tweet:
Same media that turned Todd Akin, a car on a roof, a Texas rock, and a horse, into national media events is upset over selfies and Castro?
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) December 10, 2013
Update: With all due allowances for how shooting a zillion photos can catch people in odd moments that appear to be filled with false significance, I’m not sure how any explanation but the obvious one suffices for this photo:
Update: The real outrage at the Mandela memorial is the way George W. Bush has been treated.
Update: Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is not a big fan of Obama’s handshake with the Cuban despot, as related by The Hill:
“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,” Rubio said.
Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, has been a vocal critic of the Castro regime. Earlier this year, he told The Cable he believed “the Castro regime sponsors terrorism abroad and against their own people.”
“It remains clear that Cuba is the same totalitarian state today that it has been for decades,” Rubio said. “This totalitarian state continues to have close ties to terrorist organizations.”
He’s also criticized the president for loosening restrictions on travel to the island as part of an economic embargo instituted during the Cold War.