Reporter Asks WH Spokesman: 'Is there any world leader [Obama] would not shake hands with?'
During today's White House press briefing, ABC's Jonathan Karl asked stand-in spokesman Josh Earnest a simple question. He got an elaborate non-answer.
Karl asked, "Do you -- I mean, you've seen some of the criticism, I mean, John McCain actually compared this to Neville Chamberlain shaking hands with Hilter. What's your response to all that criticism that, you know, people say that the president shouldn't have given this -- given Castro the opportunity to have a handshake with the leader of the United States?"
Earnest replied with a bland deflection: "Well, again, first of all, the president shook hands with everybody who was on the stage and Mr. Castro was one of those individuals who was on the stage."
Obama sought Castro out and bowed to him.
"The second thing I point out is I think even in the few number of times I've stood at this podium I've been asked about other people who've tried to draw connections between recent political events and the terrible reign of Adolf Hitler," Earnest continued. "That is a dangerous and unwise thing to do in public. The third thing I guess I would say is that there used to be a pretty important principle that originated in the Republican party I believe, that partisan politics should stop at the water's edge. And it's unfortunate that we did see a number of Republicans, yesterday, who criticized the president for a handshake at Nelson Mandela’s funeral. That is, I think, an important progression in a number of politician's views on that topic."
The handshake was very important. It gave the Castros a significant propaganda coup domestically among their far left fellow travelers. If Earnest were earnest, Barack Obama would still be a senator -- he ran for president largely by criticizing President Bush's handling of foreign policy.
Karl tried again, asking "Is there anybody that the president would not -- is there any world leader the president would not shake hands with? I mean, if Assad had been on that stage, if Kim Jong-Un had been on that stage? I mean, I’m trying to gauge the principle, he shook hands with everybody on the stage. I mean, is there any -- anybody he wouldn’t?”
Earnest's answer: "That's a difficult hypothetical to entertain, and I decline to do it at this point.”