Bromancing the dictator: Obama and Chavez much different from Reagan-Bush and Marcos

Much has been made about the recent photo ops between Barack  Obama and the Venezuelan president  Hugo Chavez.  In diplomatic matters,  talking is normally better than not talking.  But photo ops don’t necessarily come with context or sound. And as we know, a picture is worth a thousand words, particularly when they’re spun by ideologues from right or righter.

So now we have evidence of Obama and Chavez touching each other:  Is it really a handshake? Or is it a budding bromance?

What should be remembered  is that opening a door for a dictator is not exactly like being in bed with one.

One good example is the infamous photo op that took place in 1981 between then Vice-President George H.W.Bush  dispatched to Manila to for an official feel-good session with the Philippine dictator and human rights violator Ferdinand Marcos.

Said the U.S. veep to Marcos: “We love your adherence to democratic principles and to the democratic process.”

Perhaps this is where the son got his warped sense of world affairs.

It’s just worth bringing up to see how far the U.S. can cozy up to a dictator. Clearly Reagan/Bush crossed the line with Marcos. That  was so much more than just a casual affair.

The history of America’s  romancing of dictators helps put the current Obama/Chavez handshake and book exchange into better context.

Sometimes a cordial greeting between two very different  presidents is just that. And no more.

At least, not yet. They should go slow.

If Obama is studying the Reagan years, he should learn the lesson about being too close to Marcos and  on the wrong side of the People’s Revolution.

(HO/AFP/Getty Images)