Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tore into President Barack Obama Monday for his friendly greeting of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying Obama is bolstering the "enemies of America."
Gingrich appeared on a number of morning talk shows comparing Obama to President Jimmy Carter for the smiling, hearty handshake he offered Chavez, one of the harshest critics of the United States, during the Summit of the Americas. [...]
Two Republican senators, Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and John Ensign of Nevada, joined in the criticism Monday, with Ensign calling Obama's greeting of Chavez "irresponsible."
Worse, he was smiling! Smiling!!!1!!eleventy! How dare he sell out this nation with his facial expressions! Why, it's positively... well, Reaganesque.
Venezuela is a country whose defense budget is probably 1/600th of the United States’. They own Citgo. 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. I don’t think anybody can find any evidence that that would do so. Even within this imaginative crowd, I think you would be hard-pressed to paint a scenario in which U.S. interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela.
I think mockery remains the only option for dealing with these people. We have hard evidence of torture at the highest levels of government, we have a broken economy, we have a crisis in health care and climate change. And the Republicans, still acting like the normative goal of political parties are to win the news cycle, throw up a "Obama didn't wink the way I wanted him to wink" or "Obama bent his knee when you shouldn't bend your knee and as a result we're all going to be killed or forced into burqas" every day. I don't know that there's another, more reasonable response than pointing and laughing.
Also, the media actually doesn't have to follow this story. They deserve a lot of the blame as well. They don't have to answer Newt Gingrich's phone calls.