Three world leaders -- a white conservative, a black liberal and an unpretentious woman governing the happiest country on Earth -- mirthfully huddled together for a photo capturing a momentous event.
The cellphone camera snap heard 'round the world captured President
All three leaders have taken heat from their political opponents at home for laughing at a funeral gathering and taking the "selfie."
Obama, whose Republican opponents are still smarting from his successful re-election campaign last year, was accused by conservative talk radio host
Danes were more accommodating of Thorning-Schmidt, seen in her prosperous Nordic homeland as fun-loving and down-to-earth. Denmark, after all, was rated No. 1 in this year's annual survey of happiness by a U.N.-affiliated agency. But her behavior is also "quirky, divisive and embarrassing" at times, Peter Stanners, a senior journalist with the Copenhagen Post, told a London Daily Telegraph columnist.
Thorning-Schmidt, who this year was captured on film asking
"The atmosphere was of course melancholic, but ultimately it was a celebration of a man who lived to be 95 years old, and who managed to accomplish so much in his life," Thorning-Schmidt told the Danish daily Berlingske. "There was dancing on the stands and singing and dancing, so the mood was positive. And then we took a really fun selfie."
Cameron likewise acquitted himself before his critics. Mandela was a man who brought people together, he told the back-benchers during the weekly Prime Minister's Questions. To reject Thorning-Schmidt's request for the souvenir photo would have been a betrayal of Mandela's commitment to unity and reconciliation, Cameron suggested.
"When a member of the Kinnock family [Denmark's prime minister is the daughter-in-law of former British
Agence France-Presse photographer Roberto Schmidt, who captured the three leaders chatting and giggling midway through the four-hour tribute to Mandela at a stadium in Johannesburg, said on the news agency blog that he considered the light moment in keeping with the atmosphere at "a celebration for an obviously exceptional person."
Obama hasn't dignified the conservative chatter with a response, neither over the selfie criticism nor his handshake with Cuban leader
"Sometimes a handshake is just a handshake, but when the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like Raul Castro, it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant," Cuban-born Florida Republican Rep.
The Cuban government issued a statement casting the handshake as a hopeful signal for the future of U.S.-Cuban relations, which have been frozen in acrimony since Raul and
The image of Obama and Raul Castro shaking hands could portend a "beginning of the end of U.S. aggressions," the statement from Havana said.