Was #HandShakeGate onto Something? Revisiting Last Year’s Obama-Castro Handshake

Almost exactly one year ago, our great nation took a week off to have an absolute meltdown over President Barack Obama’s handshake with Cuban President Raúl Castro (among a variety of other outrages).

That split-second detente takes on new resonance following today’s announcement of a thaw in U.S.-Cuban relations after fifty-four years of what released American prisoner Alan Gross called “mutual belligerence.”

We now know that the U.S. had been in Vatican-brokered talks with Cuba since June of 2013, meaning the handshake perhaps was a nudge to Castro to keep the talks moving, or an unintentionally public allusion to their existence. If you’re either convinced of Obama’s despot-lust or rigidly in favor of the Cuban embargo (or both!), that handshake really was a siren.

RELATED: Here Are All the Presidential Handshakes with Murderous Dictators

Or perhaps it was nothing. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) turned Handshakegate to 11 when likened Obama to Neville Chamberlain appeasing Adolf Hitler over the Sudetenland. “Why should you shake hands with someone who’s keeping Americans in prison?” McCain told the Takeaway’s Todd Zwillich at the time. “I mean, what’s the point? Neville Chamberlain shook hands with Hitler.”

Even McCain, upon reflection, later called the reaction a “gross exaggeration.” He’s still right.

Listen to the original comparison below, via the Takeaway:

[Image via screengrab]

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