Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
Last week the wingnuttia trivial talking point was the "Obama bow." The Latest Faux Obama "Scandal" on Faux News: The Bow
This week the wingnuttia trivial talking point is "the handshake":
Wingnuttia, led by Dr. Newt "The Professor" Gingrich said Obama's handshake with Venezuela strong man Hugo Chavez poses a grave threat to our national security. During an interview on The Today Show Monday morning, Gingrich responded to a question this way:
Q: But we certainly have mended relationships with countries that have hated us in the past. Russia comes to mind, China comes to mind.
GINGRICH: But we didn't rush over, smile, and greet Russian dictators. We understood who they were.
h/t Think Progress
Oh Really, Professor?
Dr. Gingrich, who has a Ph.D. in European history, should re-read his history books. As the Cold War waned, President Reagan (whose foreign policy Gingrich repeatedly praises) met with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at four summits, leading to nuclear arms reductions. President George H. W. Bush negotiated the Start II treaty alongside Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and President Clinton discussed foreign investment with Yeltsin. President Bush, of course, said he saw into Vladimir Putin's soul after a private engagement. Each meeting had smiles all around:
I don't know where "The Professor" Gingrich teaches, but any history teacher who so publicly displays such ignorance of history should lose his teaching privileges, and any school foolish enough to employ this fraud is probably at risk of losing its accreditation. Gingrich's students should demand a full refund of their course fee if this is the kind of nonsense he is teaching them.
President Obama's remarks during the press conference in Trinidad and Tobago perfectly articulated why the GOP blowhards who are now whining that Obama had a cordial exchange with Venezuela President Hugo Chavez really should be ignored as their only purpose these days seems to be to oppose anything Obama says or does. Obama Dismisses GOP Criticism On Cordial Conversation With Hugo Chavez
Here is CNN's question and Obama's answer, as released by the White House:
Q: During the campaign you were criticized by some within your own party for perhaps not being able to be tough on foreign policy matters. Now you've had this friendly interaction with Mr. Chavez. Are you concerned at all about how this might be perceived back in the U.S. as perhaps being soft? Already one senator is calling this friendly interaction irresponsible. And as a quick follow-up, if I may, when you got the book from Mr. Chavez, what did you really think? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I think it was a nice gesture to give me a book; I'm a reader. And you're right, we had this debate throughout the campaign, and the whole notion was, is that somehow if we showed courtesy or opened up dialogue with governments that had previously been hostile to us, that that somehow would be a sign of weakness. The American people didn't buy it. And there's a good reason the American people didn't buy it — because it doesn't make sense.
You take a country like Venezuela — I have great differences with Hugo Chavez on matters of economic policy and matters of foreign policy. His rhetoric directed at the United States has been inflammatory. There have been instances in which we've seen Venezuela interfere with some of the — some of the countries that surround Venezuela in ways that I think are a source of concern.
On the other hand, Venezuela is a country whose defense budget is probably 1/600th of the United States'. They own Citgo. It's unlikely that as a consequence of me shaking hands or having a polite conversation with Mr. Chavez that we are endangering the strategic interests of the United States. I don't think anybody can find any evidence that that would do so. Even within this imaginative crowd, I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela.
So if the question, Dan, is, how does this play politically, I don't know. One of the benefits of my campaign and how I've been trying to operate as President is I don't worry about the politics — I try to figure out what's right in terms of American interests, and on this one I think I'm right.