Monday, April 20, 2009

Fatal Handshakes?

In Newt Gingrich's diplomacy can the roots of his disastrous marriages be discerned.

The former House Speaker from a zillion years ago thinks President Obama talking with Hugo Chavez is a sign of "weakness."

highwayscribery does not watch the morning shows, but according to "Politico," Gingrich showed up on a bunch of them today (April 20) in another effort to revive his career.

He told FOX & Friends (he's one of the friends) "Frankly, this does look a lot like Jimmy Carter."

He was being "frank," and not calculating or compulsively negative like the FOX he's friends with.

"Carter tried weakness, and the world got tougher and tougher, because the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators - when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead."

Carter, you see, got together with people like Cyrus Vance and Zbignew Brezinski circa 1976 and said, "let's try a foreign policy rooted in weakness."

Tarring the Democratic Party with the Nobel Peace prize winner's presidency used to be a potent firearm in the Republican arsenal, but now gains no more traction than calling Obama a socialist does.

And that's because after eight years of Republican misrule, Carter doesn't look so bad...and neither does socialism.

Now let us be, er um, "frank" here. highwayscribery has very little use for Hugo Chavez. We think he is a bully and wrong to keep amending the Venezuelan constitution so that he can continue running for president.

Much the same way we think the Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg is wrong for amending voter-imposed term limits to suit his own purposes.

But we weren't talking about New York, we were talking about Chavez whom we think is undemocratic and unfair to the Venezuelan opposition.

We think he gives socialism a bad name and has not demonstrated much breadth of intellect by repeating errors of socialist governments past, rather than manifesting an accumulated acumen from lessons learned.

But we don't think talking to him at a diplomatic event is a sign of weakness. We think it is diplomatic.

Because highwayscribery has an international perspective, we are comprehending of the Latin American viewpoint, which sees that continent as something of plantation for American corporate interests.

We're also familiar with the author of the book outlining this position Chavez gave Obama. Eduardo Galeano is a serious and respected man of letters in the Spanish-speaking world who would probably have little use for the Venezuelan strongman.

The Republican Party in its current state of ineptitude lacks a response to the health care crisis or any of the daily problems it created and which the president must now spend his days trying to fix.

Piling on with their "ideas man" Gingrich were senators John Ensign of Nevada and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.

Gregg, you'll remember, agreed to be Obama's commerce secretary, but then backed down in the purest example of his party's inability to govern and preference for obstruction.

We don't know anything about Ensign, but what little he said justifies our lack of curiosity:

"I think it was irresponsible for the president to be seen laughing and joking with Hugo Chavez. 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."

Ensign doesn't seem to think the prestige is very sturdy if a smiley photo-op can undermine it.

Back in the days when the mainstream media used to amplify, without comment, anything the Bush administration sought to convey, bloggers had a real purpose, but President Obama's response to the manufactured hoopla over his Chavez handshake moment is better than anything we might come up with:

"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.

Obama noted that Venezuela's military outlays are one/six-hundreth or one six/thousandth (not sure which, but it doesn't matter) of the U.S. budget and added that, "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."

Quite the opposite.


Anonymous said...

did Newt give his OPINON ON A BeTTeR WAY to negotiate? What was the purpose of the trip?
Did OBAMA go to make friends or talk about issues?
DID HE SUCCeed or fail?

What is the point of all this? as you can Catch more files with sugar than vinegar and bombs.

the highway scribe said...

No he did not. He doesn't think negotiating is right at all. The purpose of all such trips is to connect phone voices to faces, temper electronic communications with personal interaction, and address a whole series of housekeeping issues related to treaties and agreements between the member countries. I'm sure Obama went to do both, they are not mutually exclusive ends. Only time will tell if he was successful and highwayscribery agrees with you about the sugar, if it's flies you want to catch.

Thanks for coming by.

ak47 said...

Nice one Scribe, happy you commented on this story.

Lisa H. said...

This was a good one...well put as always.