Awkward moments in international diplomacy: Raul Castro Lewandowskis Obama

posted at 9:41 pm on March 21, 2016 by John Sexton

President Obama’s trip to Cuba seems to be going about as well as could be expected. First there was the group photo staged in front of a giant mural of Che’ Guevarra that Allahpundit wrote about earlier. Next came the awkward handshake between Obama and Raul Castro that seemed to go on way too long:

Then, during the joint press conference, Castro snapped when asked about Cuban political prisoners. ABC reports:

“What political prisoners? Give me a name, or names, or after this meeting is over you can give me a list of political prisoners and if we have those political prisoners they will be released before tonight ends,” said Castro.

Castro also got upset with too many questions from reporters. Obama had to cajole him to take a question from Andrea Mitchell. The Hill reports:

Typically, Obama’s press conferences with foreign leaders include questions from two members of the American press and two members of the foreign press.

But Castro was having none of it. The Cuban leader told members of media they were directing “too many questions to me.” Obama had to persuade his counterpart to answer one from NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, who asked him about his vision of Cuba’s future.

But for pure awkwardness the highlight had to be this moment right after the end of the press conference when Raul Castro Lewandowki’d Obama’s arm and hoisted it in the air like a gold medal in the awkward Olympics. Obama responded by letting his hand go limp, which didn’t improve appearances much.

Lest you think only right-wing bloggers are making something of this, I give you that bastion of right-wing talk radio…NPR:

In the moments after the end of a historic press conference held by President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro in Havana, Cuba, what began as a regular handshake morphed into … something else. The Cuban leader raised Obama’s limp arm above his head and held it there for a few seconds.

The move most closely resembled a wrestling referee announcing the winner of a wrestling match. Only way more awkward.

Even the Huffington Post conceded the obvious:

The Miami Herald has a moment-by-moment breakdown of the whole thing if you need a more detailed analysis. Suffice it to say those who worried America might be made to look foolish by sib-dictator Castro today have had their expectations exceeded.


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