The art of diplomacy

Again, we get a stark comparison in styles between President Obama and the previous administration.

To me that handshake with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez symbolizes one of the things I like so much about Obama. He doesn’t avoid the face to face meeting, but walks right up to an adversary and says, “Let’s talk.” The old American arrogance has been replaced with strength and confidence. The first step in diplomacy is establishing an environment where discussion can take place. Obama has opened the door.

NY Times

President Obama, seeking to thaw long-frozen relations with Cuba, told a gathering of Western Hemisphere leaders on Friday that “the United States seeks a new beginning with Cuba,” and that he was willing to have his administration engage the Castro government on a wide array of issues.

And this

President Obama, facing criticism at home for appearing too cozy with President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, defended his overtures on Sunday, saying the handshakes and polite conversation the two leaders shared here were hardly “endangering the strategic interests of the United States.”

Mr. Obama . . . said he believed he had paved the way for “frank dialogue” with countries like Venezuela and Cuba, countries whose relations with the United States are, respectively, strained and practically nonexistent.

But . . . the president also sought to calibrate his message more finely . . . He said he has “great differences” with Mr. Chávez and insisted that freedom for the Cuban people would remain the guiding principle of his foreign policy.

Photo credit: NY Times

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  1. #1 by Ken on April 19, 2009 - 5:00 pm

    It is looking like Obama never met a leftist dictator he didn’t like. Obama just sat there and let Daniel Ortega trash the United States and said nothing in his own country’s defense. When Obama snubs our greatest friend, The United Kingdom, cozies up to murderous leftist dictators, and bows to the King of one the most oppressive nations on Earth it really opens up a great window to Obama’s soul and exposes where his true elegance lies.

  2. #2 by Cliff on April 19, 2009 - 5:45 pm

    The contrast parallels perfectly the underlying character/personality of our diveded culture.

    Type A: Loud, insecure, immature anti-intellectual, redneck bully

    Type B: Quiet, confident, mature, intellectual vibrant, empathetic but firm leader.

    I never tire of re-watching the first time Bush was challenged in public.

  3. #3 by Becky on April 19, 2009 - 5:50 pm


    Since you said people don’t know when you’re kidding, I just wanted to ask if this comment falls under that heading.

  4. #4 by Cliff on April 19, 2009 - 6:06 pm

    Hey Ken & Becky,

    Americans and American Presidents have been cosy with dictators since the beginning.

    Obama is just a whole lot classier about it.

    Becky, I can confidently assure you, Ken has come over to our side deep in his heart. Everything has been tongue in cheek since about when he realized Sarah Palin was an idiot, a liar, and too stupid for words.

    This is just Ken’s way of exorcising years of demons. Be gentle with him. He’s hurting pretty bad.

  5. #5 by James Farmer on April 19, 2009 - 6:07 pm


    Yet again, your commentary evidences how remarkably poorly your education has served you!

  6. #6 by Cliff on April 19, 2009 - 6:08 pm

    But at least he’s trying. He is not a terminal case like folks like Paul Mero and Okelberries, JD, Bob et. al.

  7. #7 by cav on April 19, 2009 - 6:20 pm

    In the interest of full disclosure, you should publish his 1099.

  8. #8 by Jeff on April 19, 2009 - 6:34 pm

    Like Darth Vader, maybe there is some glimmer of hope for Ken?

  9. #9 by Cliff on April 19, 2009 - 6:51 pm

    There is, I promise.

    Someday, Ken will be our poster boy for the converted. He is very very smart.

  10. #10 by Ken on April 19, 2009 - 7:19 pm


    Ah shucks, you make me blush!


    I think I’m more like Luke Skywalker. Trying to save the universe but making a lot of mistakes along the road and learning as he goes.

    • #11 by Becky on April 19, 2009 - 7:53 pm


      I’ll be gentle.

      Ken /Luke,

      So happy to have you with us. Keep smiling. Life is going to get better and better.

  11. #12 by Richard Warnick on April 19, 2009 - 9:51 pm

    Matt Yglesias says we need a post-Cold War Latin America policy. Which makes sense, because the Cold War is over.

    • #13 by Becky on April 19, 2009 - 10:02 pm

      That’s right, Richard. For one thing, I think it’s way past time to drop our trade embargo with Cuba. We do business with much larger countries that present far greater threat to us. Cuba has been a political football long enough.

  12. #14 by Ken on April 19, 2009 - 9:55 pm

    Cliff, Becky

    I wouldn’t say I’m “with you”, but I would say, like many conservatives, I am in political no-man’s-land.

    • #15 by Becky on April 19, 2009 - 10:04 pm


      Take heart and keep an open mind.

  13. #16 by Annie get your gun on April 20, 2009 - 3:26 pm

    I think there is great wisdom in the saying…’Keep your friends close and your enemies closer’. While you’re hearing the rest of the world criticize the Unites States, there is SOME truth to what they say like blaming the US for world wide impacted economic and energy crisis. We are a nation of over-indulgence (dig those waist and credit lines) and religious zealotry.

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