What’s really behind Obama’s so-called “irresponsible” behavior with foreign leaders?


“Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, told CNN Sunday it was “irresponsible” for President Obama to have been seen “laughing and joking” with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas on Friday.

“This is a person who is one of the most anti-American leaders in the entire world,” Ensign told CNN’s John King on State of The Union. “He is a brutal dictator and human rights violations are very, very prevalent in Venezuela. And you have to be careful.”

“When you’re talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency of the United States, you have to be careful who you’re seen joking around with,” he also said.”

But is Sen. John Ensign correct in his assumption, or is this just another attack on Obama and his attempts at reconciling America’s position as a world leader after the failed Bush doctrine of slamming the door on political negotiations? My personal thoughts are by opening dialog with known socialist leaders, like Chavez, he is limiting Chavez’s attempts to portray the United States as the fall guy for everything wrong with his (Chavez) country. If the people of these oppressed countries see an American President opening up lines of communication, that have previously been shut down, won’t they have to take a second look at what we stand for?

Bush’s policy of no relation has done this country no good at all, and set back whatever gains we may have made over the years by years, if not decades. Nothing good can come from non-relations, but good things can come from open dialog.



Filed under Diplomacy, Political Reform, Republicans

21 responses to “What’s really behind Obama’s so-called “irresponsible” behavior with foreign leaders?

  1. annie_moose

    Surprise surprise another wingnut world view.

    Wish they would just set up their own country….puritans version 2.0

  2. All too often my ‘Quotes of the Day’ gadget has at least one quote appropriate to what’s happening today. Here’s one I found matches just about everything Republican:

    “A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward.”
    – Franklin D. Roosevelt

    We really shouldn’t interfere with their strong desire to fight everything new, different, effective. Let them stay in the past and remain irrelevant to today’s challenges.

    Of course, diplomacy is the best way! Always has been. Do you begin a relationship with your neighbor by being hostile, uncooperative, unfriendly?

  3. jammer, allow me to nitpick a bit.

    Yes, the actions of the U.S. to open dialog would give the citizens of Venezuela reason to question Mr. Chavez’ assertions that the U.S. was the cause of everything wrong in their country if these citizens were in a position to know about it. It appears from prior reporting on things out of Venezuela that Mr. Chavez controls the media, and his government has taken extraordinary steps to keep it that way.

    That being said, it is better to talk, even if nothing good comes therefrom, rather than to not talk which ensures that nothing good will come.

    • First-time commenter who found y’all through Douglas & Main . . .

      It may be a bit late for this thread, but this post in The New Republic’s blog, The Plank, speaks to the Venezuelan reaction to the Obama-Chavez meeting:
      It also provides a bit of Venezuelan domestic politics as its background. I’m by no means an expert in Venezuelan politics, but the explanation it gives for Chavez’s change in tone (it wasn’t only Obama who risked something with that handshake) rings true.

      • iggydonnelly

        John B. Thanks for the link and thanks for posting. We look forward to hearing from you in the future.

      • John B,

        That was interesting! So in addition to controlling what is in the news, Chavez and his machinations are so convoluted and expected, what he does brings yawns all the way around. Seems he is well known in his country for acting however it takes to further his goals.

        Come back often and pull up a chair.

  4. One more cynical than I might observe that as Venezuela has large reserves of oil, it is to the advantage of the U.S. to open dialogs, in an attempt to secure future supply and also provide an opportunity to separate Venezuela from the other members of OPEC. Certainly less messy than invading with troops.

  5. lilacluvr

    I see Obama as one of these seed planting politicians. Even if we don’t see any immediate gains from Obama’s reaching out to foreign leaders we do not particular like, there will come a day that the seed of trust planted by Obama may come to bear fruit when we need it the most.

    6176 makes a good point about the oil. It sure wouldn’t hurt to have someone outside of the Middle East oil cartel on our side.

    As for Ensign calling it inappropriate for Obama to be seen laughing with certain foreign leaders.

    Might I remind Mr. Ensign, and the rest of the Republicans who hate everything Obama, George W. Bush kissed the Saudi King and the majority of the 9/11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Why was our president kissing the leader of the murdering terrorists?

    And if we are going to weed out every single foreign leader due to their human rights violations, then why are we so cozy with China?

    Selective condemnation is never good.

  6. lilac, the answer to your final question above is simple; Venezuela doesn’t hold the amount of U.S. debt that China does, much of which debt was acquired as the result of the “off books” financing of the Iraq and Afghanistan ‘wars’.

  7. lilacluvr

    6176 – you’re right and I knew the answer before my question.

    But if we are using the logic of not talking to certain foreign leaders because of their human violations record, then if we were truly honest with ourselves, wouldn’t we also include China in that group?

    I know, I’m thinking like a rational person again. That’s why I could never make it as a Neo-Conservative.

  8. jammer5

    Good points, 6176. I wonder what control he has of the internet? I have a friend who is married to an artist there, and she tells me she has to watch her back constantly.

    But dialog is the first stage of trust, and without dialog, nothing good can come of two disagreeing countries, regardless of the countries involved.

    The Republicans are picking anything they can in an attempt to discredit Obama. What they fail to, or are incapable of, understand is their policies have not worked. Their policy of, we’re good-you’re bad so we’ll just bad mouth you, cannot work in the twenty-first century. The Republicans are deathly afraid if they step out of their box, they’ll fail. Problem is, they already have failed. The last election is proof of that.

  9. The Republicans seem to still be using fear as their tool of choice. Be afraid of — Obama, foreign leaders, change. You name it, and the Republican leadership and their wacko media representatives (Rush, Hannity, Coulter, O’Reilly…) scream to be afraid of it! They don’t give reasons, they just scream criticisms and find that anything new or different, or anything done by a Democrat is scary!

    They have their small percentage of fraidy cats, but the rest of us aren’t falling for this fear stuff any longer. The best way to eliminate fear is knowledge! Communicate with, exchange ideas and philosophies, learn about — and we are no longer afraid.

  10. lilacluvr

    I think the Republicans are not only afraid to step out of their box but they are arrogant enough to think they don’t need to step out of their box.

    After all, they have their Religious Right Wingers with them protecting them and even sanctioning what they are doing by their one true God.

    For too many years, this approach has worked. They have used fear to keep their followers in line. What better fear than to make God mad?

  11. Here’s what lack of diplomacy got ImaDinnerJacket —

    Walkout at Iran leader’s speech


    • lilacluvr

      Isn’t the Iran President in political trouble in his own country?

      Maybe he is taking a political page out of the Republicans’ playbook and trying to get all the Iranians into that victim mode and rally them around himself as the one leader willing to speak out against the mighty evildoers.

      But it was interesting to watch. I have a question though – are these people not searched before going into such a public conference? How could anyone get through security with a multi-colored wig and not be questioned?

  12. iggydonnelly

    Fear is just one arm of the Republican spin machine. Using fear has it’s limits and even downsides – not that one could tell that GOP strategists might know this.

    More on this and related subjects later…

  13. David B

    Obama should maybe have wagged his finger at Chavez and put on a frowny face?

    One always puts a best smile on when talking to the worst neighbor on the block.

    It’s the policies that matter, not external interpersonal relationship symbols.

  14. frigginloon

    Come on… Obama should give Kim Jong Il a big ol’ hug. But he better keep his hand on his wallet!

  15. David B

    The GOP has adopted style for substance: Palin, for instance and using a war that weakened us as a show of strength.

    Who else shook hands with or got close to a foe?