Why Did Obama Shake Castro’s Hand? Home Training

Stop being surprised that our president was polite to Cuba’s president.

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They’re Men of Color

For the uninitiated, you’ve almost surely seen two men of color of a certain age pass each other on the street and subtly nod as they pass. Obama’s just old enough to fall into that category, and that’s just how it’s done. Under that ironclad rule of protocol, not to acknowledge Castro—even though he’s an adversary—would have just been bad form on Obama’s part.

Friends Close, Enemies Closer

Plus, since Cuba is still an American adversary, ask yourself this: Why would Obama give the Castro regime any bulletin board motivational material by snubbing their leader? It sure wouldn’t make Obama—or Americans—look any better if the headlines tomorrow read, “En Route to Podium, Obama Leaves Castro Hanging.” Because as Twitter user @Chas_Blakemore put it:

Old saying. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. A handshake is meaningless.

And while it might have just been a subtle attempt at diplomacy, the handshake might just be Obama’s way of messing with people.

These days, Obama’s a pretty sour and dour guy, bogged down by sagging poll numbers and unable to fully enjoy his only form of recreation—golf—because even that gets him in trouble with critics. So after a long flight to South Africa that will be followed by a long flight back, who knows?

Maybe all he was thinking was, “Yeah, I’ll shake his hand. Let’s see what happens.”

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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