Nelson Mandela’s funeral generated a number of headlines, none of which can be taken very seriously. The crowd cheered Barack Obama rapturously, while reportedly booing George W. Bush, who did more for Africa than any other president. One can only hope this tells you something about who attended the funeral, and not about the sentiments of Africans generally.
President Obama, in full teenage girl mode, shot a selfie with British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, while Michelle Obama, it is fair to say, observed with disapprobation:
Didn’t Bill Clinton carry on in a similarly inappropriate manner at a state funeral, until he realized that reporters were looking at him? I believe so; you can look it up.
Obama got along famously with Ms. Thorning-Schmidt, to the point where Michelle eventually traded places with her husband to get him out of harm’s way. Honestly, I can’t blame her:
In political terms, the lowlight was Obama’s encounter with Raul Castro, who has taken over running Cuba’s island prison because of his brother’s incapacity. Obama shook Castro’s hand with apparent enthusiasm, in a public setting that foreseeably was captured by the cameras:
There are two salient points here: 1) the handshake, and 2) the bow. Obama has a long history of bowing to dictators, as we and many others noted early in his administration. Now the bad habit seems to have recurred. If that wasn’t a bow to Cuba’s military dictator, what was it?
Democrats were quick to assure us that Obama didn’t bow. This tweet by the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg is a classic:
As is so often the case, Groucho Marx’s commentary is definitive (even if the quote isn’t quite accurate): Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes? Otto Reich, former assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, explains the damaging significance of Obama’s handshake:
The Castro brothers have been vying for the world to see a handshake with a U.S. president for over 50 years. (President Clinton did shake hands with Fidel at a U.N. summit in 2000, but there was no photo.) They knew it would represent a form of recognition, something they forfeited by virtue of presiding over a military dictatorship, and their support for violence and anti-American terrorist movements and governments on three continents.
Until now, every American president had studiously avoided this mistake: At U.N. and other gatherings U.S. Secret Service agents and diplomats were under orders to make sure such a “photo op” so highly desired by the Castros did not happen.
With his greeting, President Obama has squandered U.S. prestige and honor.
But that is the overarching goal of Obama’s foreign policy.
The last word goes to Iowahawk. As I said, sometimes the only appropriate response is the comic: