President Barack Obama is traveling across Asia, arguably making history. In India he proposed that that nation be admitted onto the UN security council. In Indonesia he worked to strengthen ties with that huge bastion of moderate Islam. Now he's in Korea for an economic summit and to try to advance US efforts to enter a free trade agreement with Seoul.
And what's the hot story we Americans are being spoon fed this morning: the handshake between an Indonesian government official and the president's wife. Here's an example from a New York Times sponsored blog:
"Immediately after a ceremony on Tuesday welcoming President Obama to Indonesia, the country’s conservative Muslim information minister took to Twitter to argue that America’s first lady, Michelle Obama, was entirely to blame for a televised handshake between the two that has left him open to charges of hypocrisy.
As The Associated Press reports, the vast majority of Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, but the minister, Tifatul Sembiring, 'has flaunted his piety, making a point of avoiding contact with women who are not related to him.'
"After footage broadcast on Indonesian television clearly showed Mr. Sembiring reaching out to clasp the first lady’s hand after they were introduced by Mr. Obama, a female journalist whose hand the minister has refused to shake poked fun at him on Twitter.
"Stung, Mr. Sembiring claimed on his Twitter feed that Mrs. Obama had made it impossible for him to avoid touching her hand, writing: 'I tried to prevent [being touched] with my hands but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me [so] we touched.'”
Not only is the big news this stupid pseudo-controversy over a handshake. But the major news source is Twitter?!
It ought to make thinking Americans weep. But, I fear, we are too busy worrying about whether or not Sara Palin's pudgy daughter will be voted off "Dancing with the Stars" to take time to be outraged about this latest distraction from what the real news is.