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Final Word: Handshakes are polite, not always political

Boy, Fox News sure made a big deal about the handshake between President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday.

Obama stopped to shake Castro’s hand on the way to the podium to make his comments about the former South African president. The handshake comes more than 50 years after the U.S. cut diplomatic ties with Cuba, following the Cuban Revolution led by Castro’s brother Fidel, a Communist.

The New York Times is already out with an editorial bearing the headline, “Will Handshake with Castro Lead to Headache for Obama?”

Please, let’s hope not.

Obama took to the podium following the “handshake heard ’round the world” to make comments about Mandela and the trust he had in others. He made the point that if you don’t trust others, they can’t possibly be expected to trust you in return.

I see neither the comments nor the handshake as meaning anything toward Cuba.

Obama was being polite, a statesman.

It’s what you do.

We need to allow our president to behave like a gentlemen when he is on the world stage.

Just like he shook hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and bowed to Emperor Akihito of Japan, you don’t have to condone the government of a foreign nation to be polite to its leader, especially when you are at the funeral of a man who changed the world and fought for freedom.

And that’s something our own state officials could stand to recognize.