Looking beyond a handshake

Carol Jensen minimizes the significance of Obama's handshake with Hugo Chavez ("The handshake seen around the world," April 27).

I will readily admit that, under ordinary circumstances, such a handshake wouldn't mean much. She mentions Nixon's overtures to the communist Chinese as an example of how such gestures are relatively meaningless. But let's metaphorically examine how the significance of such a gesture can take on different meaning depending on the character of the dramatis personae.

Let's say that two well-known criminals, perhaps Scarface Al Capone and Frank Nitti are captured (excuse the pun) on film smiling, shaking hands, and hugging in the typical underworld fashion on page three. And on the same page there is a picture of Elliot Ness grasping Frank Nitti by the arm and smiling. The obvious conclusion would be that the latter photo has a completely different meaning from the former even without any accompanying text.

It is much the same in photos showing a known socialist shaking hands with a socialist dictator, and a Republican shaking hands with a communist totalitarian. In the first case, you know that there is a commonality of interest between the protagonists. In other words there may be much more going on below the surface than diplomatic courtesy. In the second you can just as confidently conjecture that the gesture is relatively meaningless because few conservatives put faith in any system, or any proponent of such a system, that is the antithesis of personal and economic freedom.

We have in past liberal administrations, and even more so in the current administration the de facto nationalization of a significant portion of our manufacturing and financial infrastructure, something at which Hugo Chavez has been extraordinarily successful and which is now threatening his country with economic misfortune. We can expect the same here if we allow our economic well being to become less of a concern than the purchasing of votes that inevitably ensure acquisition of uncontested power by irresponsible socialist elitists.

In other words, we look beyond the handshake to the glints in the eyes of both Chavez and Obama. Do you?

Robert Vasseur, Newberry Springs