Freedom and Dictatorship: Equal Partners!?

If we’re going to “reach out” and act as “equal partners” with dictators like Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro, who enslave, kill and otherwise terrorize their victims, what, exactly will be our common ground?

Is it that being nice to these people, shaking their hands and accepting books or gifts, will somehow turn them into advocates of democracy and individual, constitutional rights? Or is the thinking that individual and constitutional rights are less important than the shaking of hands and a “spirit of friendship” among politicians? If the point is to show how much better we are than they are, as is often stated by our new president, then how does being “better” than the evil guys square with being their “equal partners?” This makes no sense even on its own terms.

What has America gotten itself into here? What will it take for America to wake up, connect the dots, and understand that a president who says and does these kinds of things is either an incredibly naive and foolish advocate of freedom, or actually more on the side of those dictators?