Barack Obama, Rick Perry, and the handshake that won’t happen

Gov. Rick Perry has declined to greet President Obama at the airport when Obama arrives in Texas. Instead, Perry has called on the president to hold a “substantive meeting” with him to discuss the wave of young illegal immigrants pouring into border states

I have mixed feelings about Perry’s decision not to greet Obama. Any president deserves a show of respect from other elected officials. They need not embrace the president, Chris Christie style. But showing up to welcome the president into their state is a nice touch.

On the other hand, I understand why Perry, whose state is beleaguered by the influx of illegal immigrants, doesn’t want to provide Obama with a photo op. Moreover, Obama himself has not governed in the spirit of comity and respect for the political opposition.

For example, he used his 2010 “health care summit” not to engage in good faith dialogue with Republican congressional leaders like Paul Ryan, but rather, in the words of one White House official, to “give a face to gridlock, in the form of House and Senate Republicans.” In other words, the event was an ambush.

In the real world, the amount of respect a president receives will always be tied to his popularity. If Obama were still popular, you can be fairly sure Perry would greet him.

As it is, Obama is lucky if Al Franken doesn’t avoid him when he visits.

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