A bow here, a handshake there.
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For those who believe in human rights and liberty, the sight of our president bounding up some stairs to energetically shake hands with Raul Castro, dictator of Cuba, was more than a little unsettling — regardless of the circumstance. But that’s what President Obama seemed to go out of his way to do at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service Tuesday. Although Castro has imprisoned American Alan Gross for four years now, CNN alternately applauded and made excuses for the handshake.

Obviously worried that shaking hands with a dictator might hurt Obama politically, the media were quick to play goalie. CNN’s Chris Cuomo went so far as to read Obama’s mind and report on the president’s true intent:

And that handshake obviously was a huge moment. But not to be misunderstood, the handshake with Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, we believe was President Obama showing respect to Nelson Mandela and the occasion of today, the spirit of reconciliation. Of course, it will be dissected politically. …

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