First Draft: From No. 54,000 to No. 2 — after a handshake

April 20, 2009

SUMMIT-AMERICAS/The handshake that set Washington buzzing — that awkward grip-and-grin between President Barack Obama and Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez at a weekend summit in Trinidad — seems to be great for book sales. Specifically, the tome Chavez passed to Obama, “Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage of a Continent” leaped from Number 54,000 on to Number 2, almost overnight.

The anti-colonialist book is in some strange company atop the online bestsellers list. Five of the others in the top 10 are editions in the popular romantic vampire “Twilight” series. There’s also “The 5000 Year Leap: A Miracle That Changed the World” at Number 7. The online description says it’s about how “the United States there has been a gradual drifting away from the Founding Fathers original success formula.”

Number 9 is “The Ultimate Depression Survival Guide: Protect Your Savings, Boost Your Income, and Grow Wealthy Even in the Worst of Times.” Number 8 is “The Shack,” billed as “a one of a kind invitation to journey to the very heart of God.”

What’s at the very top? “Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto.” This one tells “how conservatives can counter the liberal corrosion that has filtered into every timely issue affecting our daily lives, from the economy to health care, global warming, immigration, and more.”

The handshake itself got a negative review from former congressman Newt Gingrich who¬†said on NBC’s “Today” program: “It does matter to the world if the United States tolerates a vicious anti-American propaganda campaign and then smiles and greets the person who’s systemmatically been anti-American for his entire career.”

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo: Kevin LaMarque/REUTERS (Obama gets a book from Chavez during the Summit of the Americas, April 18, 2009)


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Newt’s is 100 percent correct on this one…It does matter.

Incredible how this liberal progressive group will ignore human rights atrocities in these countries after railing against it when it serves their purposes. Oh, but not a mention now!!

Now that they have the ear of our President, they will demand America change, they have done nothing wrong. Give them an inch, they will take a mile. Our enemies are still our enemies and they will use this against us.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

I don’t recall any eruptions of right-wing outrage when a beaming Richard Nixon shook hands with Chairman Mao, a man responsible for the deaths of untold millions. Or rending of garments and gnashing of teeth when he greeted Kruschev. There were no reports of wingnut tantrums when Ronald Reagan was palling around with Mikhail Gorbachev. Hell, Reagan and Gorbachev almost agreed to an end of the Cold War over cocktails. Imagine. Of course, a mere handshake can’t compare to the love and support lavished on Augusto Pinochet by every Republican president – and GOP candidate John McCain – from Nixon to George W Bush. Any semi-literate citizen could fill this page with similar examples for the history-challenged.

Obama shaking hands with other leaders does not endanger America, but cynical, calculated hypocrisy surely does.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

I have never heard of that book by Chavez, but I’m sure it must deal with the imperialism and genocide by the Spanish of the Inca’s, Aztec’s and the Mayan’s. I wish they were our neighbors to the south rather than what we now have.
The beginning of a book about exploitation begins with Europeans!
Are there chapters dealing with the Incans, Mayans, and Aztecs? It would take more than one book to describe the atrocities committed on them by the Spanish.
It seems that what has been perfected by those south of our border is how to whine and scapegoat.

Posted by MaryAnne B. Phillips | Report as abusive

getplaning. The difference here is that diplomacy did not occur first as it did with Nixon/Mao, Reagan/Gorbachev. When all of them finally met, it was after diplomacy played it course to a meeting would be possible and would not endanger the United States or its citizens.

Being friendly with enemies of the United States without diplomacy is just naive and dangerous for us as a nation. Obama shows himself to be a patsy for their propaganda. The book Chavez gave him (unannounced) which is critical of the United States in Latin America is a propganda pure play.

Castro in Cuba is requiring the United States to be the one to change (as well as Ortega in Nicaragua). They are just beginning because now they see weakness.

This is a dangerous road Obama is leading us on. You can see otherwise, because he is your guy, so I wouldn’t expect anything different from a extreme progressive left radical who thinks our enemies will soften because of a handshake and a hug.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

I think it speaks well of the president that with everything going on right now this is what his detractors want to get riled up about. Is there nothing more substantial to wag conservative fingers at? The term sore loser comes to mind. What is he going to do, leave a foreign leader hanging when that person sticks his hand out? Maybe stick his hands in his pockets or look away like he didn’t notice? If you wan’t him to avoid contact with everyone who is “anti-American” then he might as well not even leave the country. And we all know a strategy of haughty isolationism has served us well over the last decade…

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

Oh getplanning I wish you were right- “Any semi-literate citizen could fill this page with similar examples for the history-challenged.” – but as we know most Americans are woefully ignorant of history. I bet only 15% of people you asked would know who Augusto Pinochet was or Batista or Marcos or any of the other right wing dictators the US has supported or brought to power.
My personal favorite is Donald Rumsfeld and Saddam Hussein shaking hands before we decided that Saddam had gotten to big for his britches.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Eric. Again, the example (Rumsfeld/Saddam) is like comparing apples to oranges.

BTW, this isn’t a Democrat or Republican issue, so you and getplaning can play that game if you wan to, but it is like comparing apples to oranges. Obama is going down a dangerous road. But I don’t expect any more from radical leftists.

Let’s see Augusto Pinochet – Chilean Dictator, Batista – leader of Cuba before Castro, Marcos – deposed Philippine president who lived in Hawaii until his death.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

TC, you are so easy to offend it’s really quite funny. I did not mention either party in my last post, merely commented on how most Americans are not up to speed on history.

I just think it’s funny that Rummy went to Iraq met Saddam, shook his hand and viewed him an ally against Iran after the Iranian revolution. It’s called irony.

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

Eric. You didn’t have to mention the party, you mentioned republicans. Please, stop with your word games. Your intention was to bring out, in your opinion, the worst (tenuous at best) of the worst and it always happens to be a republican.

Perhaps it is called irony, I don’t know. But it is entirely different from Obama giving known dictators who hate the United States a handshake and a hug. That’s not irony, that’s a travesty for us as a nation.

Offended? Never. I just respond as you respond.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

clearly out numbered tc,but good to see you holding your corner,unfortunatly i cannot add anything to the debate my contribution to this topic would not be “valid”,you no how it is.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Brian Lee. I am getting weary of my conservative viewpoints being censored and not allowed to be part of the debate. However, we have to endure the diatribes from the left.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive