All right. Hugo Chavez is a bastard, to say the least. A serious, power-hungry bastard. Obama shook hands with him, okay. It seemed like one of those situations where you have to be polite and diplomatic even when you kind of wish you could run away. But whatever. He did it. But the outrage about it seems weird to me because there have been plenty of times when our leaders interacted with some pretty dastardly dudes. For example:
Bush's family has a long tie to the Saudi Royal family, the perpetrators of atrocious human rights violations, and who tolerate the United States only because we make them richer. If we stopped buying oil from them, they'd hate as bad as or worse than Chavez. And yet...Bush kissed the prince, held his hand, acted altogether chummy. Where's the outrage?
And then there's:
Vladimir Putin, the man whose soul Bush saw, has been linked to extreme totalitarian-style political tactics (including assassination of outspoken opponents).
And don't forget:
Reagan schmoozed with a damned dirty Communist...sure, it was for diplomacy, but when Obama suggests talking to Communist Castro, he's a maniac hell-bent on destroying America. The Gipper was an effing hero for doing it. What gives?
Lastly, let's not forget:
He's not a president, to be sure, but Donald Rumsfeld was sent by Reagan to provide military support to known human-rights violator and genocidal asswipe Saddam Hussein in his fight against Iran. Shook his hand and smiled at him, not terribly unlike Obama's interaction with Chavez. Again, it's not like we didn't know who Hussein was or what he was doing to his own people.
So. My point. I have a point and it is this: Hugo Chavez is an arrogant, evil blowhard with aspirations to totalitarianism, and the U.S. should not support him. However, I really believe it's a pot-and-kettle argument to say that Obama is making a calamitous error in shaking the douchebag's hand. Our leaders have done similar things, and often with (it seems) far more nefarious intentions. So seriously. WTF?