Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Confessions of a Liberal


I must confess that President Obama shaking hands with Chavez of Venezuela did not offend me. Here in the United States we shake hands with everyone. Now had he hugged him that might be another thing all together.

But I belong to that camp that was more offended when his predecessor, G W Bush, did not shake hands. That in this country is sort of a major shun and not good manners. In fact if someone extends a hand to you and you do not grasp it volumes have been said.

I'm told the handshake goes back to the days of swords and in this country gun fights. If you are shaking hands with someone you are not reaching for a weapon. And one of the reasons historically the left handed have not been trusted - because they could still be reaching for that weapon with their dominant hand.

I was also not offended this week by Obama extending the "figurative hand of friendship" to Cuba. About time is all I have to say. Those of us in this country that even remember the Cuban Missile Crisis are few and far between. And nothing ever was solved by not talking about it as was GW's approach to everything. Course if I talked like him I might want to keep my mouth shut too.

But how silly is it that we torture enemy compatants on an island we do not have diplomatic conversations with? The conservatives seem more upset that Obama revealed these conversations under torture than that the US under GW conducted them. First I would argue that it was no big secret but I am shocked that we used some of these techniques over 400 times against just two detainees. What is the big surprise was that some people still believe we got the truth! Torture me - hell, just threaten to torture me - and I will tell you anything you want to hear. And I am damn good at making things up. I aim to please.

And so do most torture victims. The Spanish Inquisition proved that.

So bottomline I am all for the handshakes and totally against the thumb screws. So despite the fact that I generally describe myself as a centralist on these two issues I am firmly in the liberal camp.