I set out to listen to the president's speech today after only catching bits of it here at work. And to read the text, too, after all, as the Rude Pundit said, this is Obama talking to History. The occasion requires careful attention.
Clearly, Americans listen to Obama differently than the rest of the world listens. But for the people of Latin America, this claim of his is a stomach punch. The window of hope and goodwill and support Barack Obama inspired among progressive Latin American leaders and even among the peoples of Latin America during his campaign just slammed shut.
(I have to wonder, considering that Latinos are the fastest growing demographic in the United States, what Obama is thinking just at the political level. Forget all that talk about listening and partnership. What about all these new young Latino voters?)
Our "closest friend" in Latin America is Uribe's murderous regime in Colombia -- one that kills civilians with impunity and dresses the bodies in FARC uniforms to cover their murders, that builds crematoria in the jungle to dispose of the evidence, that at last count has killed over 150 school teachers just this year and that leads the world in the murder of union organizers.
I am stunned that an American president could make such a claim even as Mel Zelaya is being denied safe passage out of Honduras. And in particular, I am stunned that this president could make such a claim given his experience in "third world" nations and what I hope is his knowledge of the long history of the United States aiding and abetting dictators and turning a blind eye to the slaughter of people demanding democracy, from East Timor to Tegucigalpa.