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The thoughts and theories of a guy who basically should have gone to bed hours ago.

I know, I know - what's the point? But look at it this way - I stayed up late writing it, but you're reading it...

Let's call ourselves even & move on, OK?

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

President Bush - Founding Member - Upsilon Sigma Alpha?

During the G8 Summit, President Bush and Tony Blair had a brief conversation during which, unbeknownst to them, the microphone in front of them was on. Bush said to Blair, "See the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit and it's over." The media and the blogosphere jumped all over the comment, not based on the implications to Syria or Hezbollah, but based on the fact that the President used the word "shit." Interestingly, the British press basically ignored the profanity, but got all bent out of shape over the way the Bush caught Blair's attention: "Yo, Blair!"

Detractors of the President saw a golden opportunity to paint him as an immature frat-boy, but the general reaction of most people was lukewarm. If anything, people seemed refreshed by this rarely seen, unrehearsed reaction of a politician to troubling world events.

Daily Kos took the meme one step further, by pulling some screen captures from another meeting, in which President Bush walked into the room, put his hands on (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel's shoulders and gave her a faux-massage. Kos called it a "frat-boy prank" and said that Merkel was "not amused." Many of his commentors called it groping, a violation of her space, sexual harassment, etc.

Ironically enough, the LA Times reported on the incident as well, and said this:

Entering the meeting room, as relayed by a Russian television camera, Bush headed directly behind the chancellor, reached out and, placing both hands on the collar of her gold jacket, gave her a short massage just below the neck.

She smiled.

Kos responded with:

I don't know about you, but it does not look to me like she is smiling."

The video is here. If this kind of story offends you, I urge you to watch the video. Chancellor Merkel puts her hands up in the air, as if Bush caught her by surprise and then, right at the end of the video, turns and smiles at the President as he walks out of the room. Here's the screen capture that Kos didn't include (apologies for the quality, I don't have access to Photoshop right now. Watch the video itself for a better look):

In my opinion, the two are obviously friends, and both had a good laugh at a meaningless incident that neither would remember unless they saw the video. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

posted by Brian at 4:58 PM


  • Of course, if she *didn't* smile, she'd be accused of being a bad sport. I would not try to read too much into a smile, especially at a diplomatic summit.

    By Anonymous media girl, at 6:26 PM, July 18, 2006  

  • Point well taken. Also, if she truly were offended, she might choose to keep it to herself, given the political fallout of discussing it publicly. This would be a truly awful situation.

    That said, all the other video & photographs I've seen of the two of them show them to be good friends. They are regularly laughing together, and occasionally even holding hands for photo ops, etc.

    All I'm saying is that if they do have such a relationship, then this likely didn't warrant a second thought for either of them. That doesn't excuse lecherous guys who do the same thing when it's not called for, it just points out that there is a difference.

    Many of the folks ranting about this (including several that you quoted on your own blog) are simply assuming it was inappropriate. IMHO, this is either displaced anger toward other men they've seen act inappropriately, or out of a political axe to grind with Bush.

    In the latter case, I feel the need to point out that jumping to conclusions about his behavior and "what it means" is precisely the same behavior that is routinely criticized in men...

    By Blogger Brian, at 12:46 AM, July 19, 2006  

  • I think it's fairly safe to say that this is inappropriate behavior between heads of state. I'll also say that I've attended a fairly large number of conferences with Europeans, and it's a damn good idea not to presume that American mores on touching translate across cultures.

    Say what you like, this strikes me as truly moronic behavior on Bush's part.

    By Anonymous Jeff Porten, at 10:15 PM, July 21, 2006  

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