Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh blasted President Barack Obama on Tuesday for shaking the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral, declaring it a soap operatic gesture designed to elevate the president "on the world stage."
"We're talking about a memorial service for a great man, in these people's minds, a great man who has just died and needs to be memorialized, and what is it? It's a warm-up act for Obama," he said.
"And Raul Castro, the unwitting dupe, was part of the warm-up act . . . it's all about Barack Obama assuming the mantle of world leftist leadership. That is what this is. It is a second inauguration, if you will, for Obama, now of the world."
Limbaugh decried both the handshake with the communist leader and its coverage by the media.
"[T]his whole week is about Barack Obama," Limbaugh said on his radio show. "That's what this soap opera script is. It's not the death of Mandela anymore. This is about Barack Obama assuming Mandela's place as a great whatever on the world stage."
Limbaugh, playing tapes of CNN coverage, also chided correspondents' description of the controversial handshake, deriding correspondent Christiane Amanpour for declaring it "a moment of reconciliation for Mandela," and correspondent Robyn Curnow for commenting that Mandela "brought people together in life, and he continues to bring people together in death."
Limbaugh bluntly rejected the analysis, calling the moment instead "Nelson Mandela bringing fellow communists together."
"[T]here are literally Americans in prison in Cuba, and Obama's got no business shaking the guy's hand," Limbaugh railed. "President Obama's not sending a message to anybody here. He's too focused on himself."
Yet, Limbaugh said, the correspondents were "beside themselves with thrills and excitement."
Limbaugh said Obama's gesture also represented a slide from prestige and honor
for the United States.
"There was a day where the United States and its president would not deign to associate with the likes of some of the people on that stage," he said.
"I think this just illustrates the great plunge that our country is in the midst of. We are being led off the cliff," Limbaugh said.
"We're not so much falling off of it, although we have enough people in this country willing to go over the side on their own by voting for Democrats and so forth. But for the most part we're being led over the cliff."
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