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Sean Penn Headshot

Smiles for Smirks

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Once again the simple-minded media and its pundits are confused about the nature of Americanism and language. When President Obama today inferred consideration of holding former administration officials accountable to law, he was immediately accused of violating his belief that we should "look forward." Had President Ford "looked forward" in his decision as to whether or not to hold Nixon accountable, he perhaps would have seen the Bush administration abuse of power coming and chosen to be genuinely tough on crime -- you know, "tough on crime" -- sending Nixon to jail and deterring this recent avalanche of abuse.

Further, the criticisms of President Obama's warm greeting toward President Chavez of Venezuela have been the posturing of our nation's most bitter and humanly impotent voices. Why is anyone listening to former Vice President Cheney? He's the one person alive proven wrong on virtually every topic. Then there's Newt Gingrich, who commented on the Chavez greeting as being approached wrong. He suggested that the meeting itself may not be improper, but that it should have been handled with a cold demeanor. This is a pattern of bad acting advice from bad actors. (All wimps think playing a tough guy is done in one-note coldness.) With a friend, or an enemy, our president will gain greater strategic position with a smile.

I know President Chavez well. Whether or not one agrees with all his policies, what is certainly true of Chavez is that he is a warm and friendly man with a robust sense of humor (who daily risks his own life for his country in ways Dick Cheney could never imagine). To treat such a man coldly is akin to spitting on him. As a country we've done enough of that. Say what you will, but it has only resulted in the self-celebration of our smirking spitters, while costing us international respect, American lives, and left wounds in the hands of our children's future. The Cheneys, down to the O'Reillys and Hannitys and Limbaughs, effectively hate the principles upon which we were founded. They are among the greatest cowards in all of American history. I applaud an American President who's tough enough...to smile.