He did it again. Presidents Obama’s trip to South Africa on December 10, 2013, to attend the memorial service of Former South African President Nelson Mandela was not without controversy. Obama clearly had and blew the opportunity to put something other than Obama Care on the front page and look Presidential despite approval ratings that are in the toilet.
On the Wednesday edition of Geraldo Rivera’s talk radio show on WABC, I called the scandal “Picture-Gate”, after all, every scandal has to have the word gate after it. It’s a part of Americana since Watergate.
Traditionally, funeral assignments of foreign dignitaries are left up to the Vice President, the country’s professional mourner, however we are talking about letting Joe Biden out of the country unsupervised and we all know what that can lead too. This was the moment that team Obama was looking for , a chance to change the news cycle and let Obama take the world stage with words of inspiration that he is very good at doing, except he dropped the ball again with his behavior and ignorance.
There are two different pictures that have made his visit the headline instead of his presence and eloquent speech. Let’s put them into perspective.
First, you have the picture of Obama shaking hands with Raul Castro, Communist Dictator of Cuba, and a current enemy of the United States. Castro, brother of Fidel, is no choir boy, he has a record of human rights abuses and is in general terms a dictating thug. The conservative right points at that picture and try’s to exploit it for all its worth. Anyone who is a regular reader of my column knows I am the last person to defend Obama but his reaching out and shaking hands with Castro is not a threat to national security.
Cuba lies 90 miles off the shores of the United States, they are contained and if needed, we could overtake the country in a day’s work. Obama extending an olive branch to a communist dictator is not the problem that the GOP would like you to think it is.
We have centrifuges spinning in Iran, China owns the mortgage on the United Sates, we deal with Russia, Pakistan, Egypt, Libya, and the list goes on. We support our enemies with billions of dollars of foreign aid and we are going to get hysterical over a momentary handshake with Castro?
And in true fashion, since he can’t help shut the government down again, Senator Ted Cruz had to be the child in the room and walk out on Castro’s speech. He would tell you it was based on principle, but the truth is the spoiled child in the room was looking for more attention.
Having said all that, the “Selfie” picture of Obama and Denmark’s Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and Britain's David Cameron, laughing it up during the ceremony was inappropriate and totally unprofessional and un-presidential. Obama‘s behavior in this regard, embarrassed not only himself but the country he represents as did the other two leaders.
When is the last time you went to a memorial service or wake, took out your cell phone and took a "selfie"?
The best part of this is the sour look on First Lady Michelle Obama who is sitting next to them trying to ignore the moment. Any married man or one in a serious relationship knows that look. It’s the one you get when you know you’re in deep trouble when she gets you alone. The look is the equivalent to a woman saying “Fine” or “Whatever" which translated means you’re going to pay for this dearly. We have all been there and we have two choices when we get that look, beg for mercy or hit the open bar and drink enough to numb the pain that surely is coming your way.
Obama has become the ‘Dennis the Menace” of presidents, full of good intentions but always seems to turn the slightest success into a catastrophe, and the American people are “Good Ol’ Mr. Wilson” having to endure the consequences of his actions , taking our “nerve” medicine and having to lie down.