Saturday, November 20, 2004

The unilateral kisses of George W Bush

George Bush’s first term was notable for acts of war, and his second term is already being noted for acts of affection. In an intriguing piece in The Washington Post, Robin Givhan notes: “The nominations of Condoleezza Rice for secretary of state and of Margaret Spellings as secretary of education were visually intriguing events, most notably because President Bush puckered up and gave both of them a congratulatory kiss. The president did not kiss Alberto Gonzales, his nominee for attorney general. He was congratulated with a strong handshake and the sort of torso tackle that men give each other in lieu of an actual hug.”

The fact that Bush puckers up only for women is clearly a source of amusement for Givhan, who later notes, “As much as could be determined from the photo record, the president has never publicly kissed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld or Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.” As if to drive the point home, she writes later, of Colin Powell and Rodney Paige, “There was no lip locking when Bush nominated them.” Givhan does not elaborate on why this is unusual or worth reporting, so we must read between the lines.

Givhan also indicates how Bush’s kissing habits are indicative of his politics. She writes: “The president kissed only Rice's right cheek, and in the case of Spellings, planted a single kiss just off-center of the lips. He did not execute the double buss that is used as a greeting throughout much of Europe, organized crime and the fashion industry … As one might expect, there was nothing international about Bush's kisses.”

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