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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Handshake II: the Propaganda Boon and Nightmare

Following their embrace last night, Hugo Chavez saw another opportunity for a propaganda boon this morning.

Jake Tapper is reporting that the book that Chavez gave President Obama the book, Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage by Eduardo Galeano. It's a book that essentially blames U.S. imperialism for every problem in Latin America, and to add insult to injury, the book is in Spanish, a language the president doesn't speak.

The video has become an instant sensation, but the propaganda value is only the latest in a string of propaganda coup for Chavez at this conference. The photo of the leaders taken last night was instantly posted in the web by the Chavez administration. The photo of the two men shaking hands enjoyed the top billing, page 1 above the fold, in the New York Times today. Now, the speculation is that relationships between the two nations are "thawing".

The White House has been busy downplaying the two handshakes, but the propaganda value has been maximized by Chavez. Chavez is already claiming that Obama initiated the handshake. The images have been broadcast the world over, and as such, Chavez gains not only much needed attention but credibility.

Hopefully, this will teach the president a valuable lesson of caution when deciding to meet with thugs and tryants. He has given the enemy much unnecessary leverage. This was a chance meeting at a conference. What kind of propaganda value would Obama give our enemies if the meeting was scheduled?


Anonymous said...

When Chavez went over to shake his hand, what do you suggest Obama should have done?

mike volpe said...

First, he didn't need to shake his hand the first time. Second, he could have made it clear that stopping the meeting for a propagandized photo op is inappropriate.