The other picture out of Italy

THE OTHER PICTURE OUT OF ITALY…. Which captures the political world’s attention more: foreign policy and terrorism, or suspected ogling of a young woman? Apparently, it’s not even close.

I had assumed, falsely and naively, that today’s big Obama-related obsession would be over a photograph of the U.S. president shaking hands with Libya’s Moammar Qadaffi at an event in Italy yesterday. ABC News’ Jake Tapper reported that the brief encounter occurred at a dinner hosted by Italian President Giorgio Napolitano, with Qadaffi representing African nations at the gathering.

It seemed likely that we’d have another uproar over presidential handshakes. Before, it was Hugo Chavez. Now, it’d be Qadaffi. The hullabaloo would be silly and annoying; Fox News would exploit as many family members of Pan Am Flight 103 victims as possible; and those who made note of Bush’s efforts to improve U.S. relations with Libya would be drowned out.

Except, none of this happened. Indeed, no one seems to care about the handshake at all. Instead, what the political world is buzzing about is an obviously-unfair photograph that purports to show President Obama ogling a young woman’s backside at an event in Italy yesterday.

Far-right blogs have embraced the misleading shot with great enthusiasm, and Fox News is treating the picture like a child treats an exciting new toy.

In reality, it’s obvious Obama wasn’t ogling anyone, and the photo just happened to capture a moment out of context. It happens. Anyone who sees the video realizes that the president doesn’t even seem to notice the young woman in question. The activists touting the pic no doubt know the truth by now, but don’t care. Typical.

But I’m nevertheless intrigued by the notion that Qadaffi is ignored by these guys. It’s not like Obama has a reputation for being a womanizer — just the opposite is true. The right would seem to have an incentive to hyperventilate about the handshake, which actually happened, rather than the ogling, which didn’t.

It’s odd.