The conservative blogosphere had a collective melt down after President Barack Obama took a picture in front of a mural of Cuban revolutionary leader Che Guevara on Monday in Havana's Revolution Plaza. Conservative websites jumped on the opportunity to criticize the President for posing in front of the infamous image of Guevara, which is based off a picture taken in 1960. Townhall.com called it a "gem of a picture," while The Washington Examiner wrote that the picture created a "fresh wave of fury."
March 22, 201619:39
The president's critics haven't had much success pointing to problems with the administration's policy, but they're apparently apoplectic about a photograph they disapprove of.
You can read the TPM piece to fully appreciate the unbridled outrage conservatives are apparently feeling about the image, but before your crazy uncle who watches Fox all day sends you an all-caps email, it's worth taking a deep breath.
The truth is, when presidents travel abroad, sometimes they're photographed with politically controversial images in the background. Ronald Reagan was seen in 1988 delivering comments below a Vladimir Lenin bust and the USSR's flag. It did not mean Reagan was a communist sympathizer; it was not a signal intended to crush the spirit of anti-communist forces around the globe; and the image drew no meaningful criticisms from Democrats.
George H.W. Bush was pictured -- more than once -- in front of a Mao portrait in China. It wasn't a big deal, either.
Stories like these come up from time to time, which is a shame. When President Obama was photographed wearing casual attire in the Oval Office, his Republican critics pounced, but the story disappeared once similar pictures of other presidents came to light.
When President Obama was seen bowing to the emperor of Japan, it became fodder for Republicans for years, though interest faded once the public saw other images of other presidents bowing to a variety of heads of state were also readily available.
When President Obama was seen making an awkward salute, conservatives were in high dudgeon, right up until they saw images of George W. Bush trying to salute while holding his dog.
I'm all for holding presidents to a high standard, but let's not hold this president to some entirely new standard, never before applied to his predecessors. If some Che image in Cuba is the new national scandal for the right, I'll take their complaints seriously just as soon as they blast Reagan for speaking under the hammer-and-sickle flag in 1988.