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Today's Hot Topic (4/20): Was This "Irresponsible" ?



 Obama's appearance with Chavez has drawn some heat.
Obama's appearance with Chavez has drawn some heat.

(CNN) Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, told CNN Sunday it was "irresponsible" for President Obama to have been seen "laughing and joking" with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at the Summit of the Americas on Friday.

"This is a person who is one of the most anti-American leaders in the entire world," Ensign told CNN's John King on State of The Union. "He is a brutal dictator and human rights violations are very, very prevalent in Venezuela. And you have to be careful."

"When you're talking about the prestige of the United States and the presidency of the United States, you have to be careful who you're seen joking around with," he also said.

Chavez — whose anti-U.S. rhetoric has included calling former President George W. Bush the devil — announced Saturday he is considering naming an ambassador to the United States, signaling a potential shift in the tense relations between the two nations.

Speaking to reporters Sunday in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Obama brushed aside criticism of the appearance, saying, "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."

"Even with the imaginative crowd, I think that you would be hard pressed to paint a scenario where US interests would be damaged as a consequence of us having a more constructive relationship with Venezuela," he said.

Also appearing on CNN, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Democrat, downplayed the moment between Obama and the Venezuelan leader, saying, "all the president did was shake his hand like George Bush [did]."



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by on Apr. 20, 2009 at 12:05 AM
Replies (21-24):
by Ruby Member on Apr. 20, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Quoting cm08:

 Personally if I had a neighbor for x-number of years that wasn’t too friendly with my family, I wouldn’t be over there smiling and shaking hands.  I keep them arm distance, until they prove otherwise.  JMO

Good point...

by Ruby Member on Apr. 20, 2009 at 3:49 PM

Another friendly photo-op.....


by Bronze Member on Apr. 20, 2009 at 4:07 PM

I don't believe you can go around ignoring the leaders of the countries that you don't agree with.  But,  I don't believe that you should be all "Ha! Ha! How are you? Love love" when you do meet them.  It is important to keep a dialog open but not to keep it like you would with your allies.  


by on Apr. 20, 2009 at 5:54 PM

We are in the same hemisphere as Venezuela. Doesn't it make sense to be polite and respectful to other world leaders? Just because we don't see eye to eye with fellow countries and their policies doesn't give us the right to snub them. We have to have some type of tolerated communication with these people or else we're likely to find ourselves at war within our own half of the world. Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Bolivia, and Nicaragua are rampant with socialist regimes. Their influence is spreading quickly through Latin America. We need to make an impression on these countries with mutual respect.

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