President Obama Shook Raul Castro's Hand: Ten Reactions on What It Means
During Nelson Mandela's funeral this morning, President Obama shook the hand of Cuban leader Raúl Castro. It's not completely unprecedented. Bill Clinton shook Fidel Castro's hand in New York in 2000. It's still an odd sight.
But what does it mean? Of course, the internet is buzzing with people trying to politically dissect a brief moment of basic manners at a funeral service.
CNN anchor Chris Coumo immediately tried to downplay any significance (which, of course, outraged right-wing site Breitbart.com):
And that handshake obviously was a huge moment. But not to be misunderstood, the handshake with Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, we believe was President Obama showing respect to Nelson Mandela and the occasion of today, the spirit of reconciliation.
Miami-based exile blog Babalu is, of course, disappointed Obama's hand touched Castro's "blood-stained hand":
I had hoped against hope (no pun intended) that Obama would somehow find the courage to fend off his proclivity to act submissive before other world leaders, especially the most despotic ones, but apparently, he simply could not resist. Once again, Obama lends credence and recognition to a vile and bloody dictatorial regime responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of innocent people.
I do not know if there is enough soap or hand sanitizer in the world to wash off the blood Castro left on Obama's hand.
Notorious right-wing blog Hot Air at least tried to empathize with Obama's predicament:
What's the protocol for something like this? You're at the funeral of South Africa's great conciliator. Castro's right in front of you -- and to my eye, it looks like he positioned himself there deliberately to meet O as he was coming down from the podium. Do you stiff-arm him or do you do a five-second heyhowareya and move on?
Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez notes the government-controlled Cuban TV stations did not broadcast the handshake: