Wednesday, December 11, 2013

President Obama Shakes Raul Castro's Hand At Mandela Memorial... The Right Goes Crazy

Yesterday in Johannesburg South Africa in an event that hosted nearly 100 heads of state and governments and attended by thousands who gathered in a cold, rainy stadium the world bid farewell to Nelson Mandela. Along with those in attendance millions watched from around the globe as leaders from around the world eulogized the fallen civil rights leader and president.

One of the world leaders who spoke at the memorial was our President Barack Obama who delivered a heartfelt and moving eulogy. In the finely crafted tribute President Obama urged all nations and peoples to embrace the lessons that Mandela taught through the life he led. To embrace your enemies and spread a message of peace and forgiveness.

At the end of President Obama's powerful words he was met with deafening applause and a standing ovation.

A "normal" person might watch the event and walk away with a new outlook on life or at the very least stop for a moment to ponder the possibilities of a world that lived in peace.

The right wing media thought different.

Rather than focus on the stirring and powerful words contained within the President's speech the right wing looked elsewhere for their talking points.

They looked at a handshake.
Obama's notorious handshake with Raul Castro
As President Obama made his way to the podium he shook hands with several dignitaries one of whom happened to be the Cuban President Raul Castro. Some in the media put this down to a recent warming of relations between Cuba and the U.S. while other merely looked at it as a polite gesture from one attendee at a memorial service towards another. The right wing hate machine saw something else. They saw what they wanted to and they let loose with an unhinged rant that echoed from the sound booths of right wing radio stations to the halls of Fox News.

What the wingnuts saw was a chance to portray the benign incident as the latest traitorous act by our socialist/communist commander-in-chief.

Here are some of the headlines, tweets and soundbites the right vomited into the ether....

Anti-Castro Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen pandering to her base said "Raul Castro uses that hand to sign the orders to repress and jail democracy advocates,"

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told reporters "Why should you shake hands with somebody who's keeping Americans in prison. Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler."

Breitbart’s John Nolte  "...the sight of our president bounding up some stairs to energetically shake hands with Raul Castro, dictator of Cuba, was more than a little unsettling"

Fox New Website blared "Cuban-American lawmakers dismayed over Obama handshake with 'thug' Castro"

The Corner's Mona Charen exclaimed " witness the handshake between Obama and Raul Castro makes the stomach turn... the nature of the Cuban regime should be enough to cause our president to find some way to avoid a handshake. Shameful day to be an American."

Sen. Marco Rubio 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. 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."

Rush Limbaugh blubbered "Now, there are a lot of people trying to say, A-ha, a-ha, see? It just proves that President Obama is a socialist." We don't need him shaking Raul Castro's hand to know this. We don't need him acting friendly with Raul Castro to know who Obama is."

BizPac Review's headline shouted "Bowing to dictators again: Did Obama just bow to Cuba’s Raul Castro?"

Glenn Beck's The Blaze ran with the headline "Obama Shook Hands With a Communist Dictator at the Mandela Memorial Service, and It’s Making Headlines,"'s smug headline read "Obama is right at home with fellow dictators at today’s communist funeral for Nelson Mandela"

The Washington Examiner's Charlie Spiering tweeted "kismet at today’s memorial service for Mandela. One’s a communist who’s reduced his country to ruins, the other’s Raul Castro."

And despite the fact that Mandela considered Cuba an ally in the anti-apartheid movement Fox News Bill Hemmer opined "A journalist contacted us today saying this would not have been in the spirit of Mandela, it would have been disrespectful to the spirit of Mandela,"

In conclusion let me say this to the right wingers who are out there clutching your pearls and swooning with the vapors over the Obama, Castro handshake photo... If you think this is the first time a politician or a sitting president has sat down or shaken the hand of a dictator here are a few photo ops that'll set you straight...

Harry Truman and Stalin

Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stalin
Richard Nixon, Dwight Eisenhower with Nikita Khrushchev

Richard Nixon and Fidel Castro

Richard Nixon with Mao Zedong

Richard Nixon and Nicolae Ceausescu

Henry Kissinger and Augusto Pinochet

Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein

George H.W. Bush with Manuel Noriega
George H.W. Bush and Hugo Chávez

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev

Newt Gingrich And Yasser Arafat
(hypocrite) John McCain handshake and bow with Muammar Gaddafi

Condoleezza Rice and Muammar Gaddafi

George W. Bush & Hosni Mubarak

George W. Bush & Saudi King Abdullah

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