Obviously, we should not mistake tone for substance, but I can't help but notice that President Obama's sense of humor is useful in foreign policy terms. Both Hugo Chávez and Daniel Ortega wanted to make statements about past U.S. policies toward Latin America, the former giving him Open Veins and the latter making a speech.
When asked by reporters at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain whether he planned to read the book, Obama, who doesn’t speak Spanish, joked: “I thought it was one of Chavez’s. I was going to give him one of mine.”
“I’m grateful that President Ortega didn’t blame me for things that happened when I was three months old,” Obama said.
Humor may in fact be the perfect way to communicate with Chávez, who jokes all the time.