No, it wasn’t a “nice gesture,” as The One very well knows. It was a cheap stunt designed to put him on the spot so that Chavez can crow when he gets home about having confronted los Yanquis with evidence of their imperialist crimes. Obama can’t call him out, though, lest our precious nascent “dialogue” with Venezuela be jeopardized, so he’s forced to swallow hard and play the stooge. Good work, Barry. Note too the vague, politic rhetoric to describe Chavez’s long history of evil clownishness. If you’re not sure what he means by “interference” that’s a “source of concern,” let me spell it out: He’s talking about funding Marxist terrorists who’ve held Americans hostage for years on end. Mentioning that might spoil the dialogue, too.
As for his point that talking to Venezuela doesn’t hurt American strategic interests, that might be true or it might not — John Ensign, for one, seems to disagree, and we’ll have to see how the detente plays in South America — but Bush holding hands with the Wahhabi king wasn’t exactly a clear and present danger to the U.S. either and that fact didn’t seem to console the left (or right). It’s not a question of jeopardizing national security, it’s a question of conferring legitimacy upon a cretin who, in a just world, would be radioactively illegitimate. If Obama’s going to do that, the least he can do is not play dumb about it.