Body Language at the Bush Library dedication

2013_04 25 Body Language at Bush Library dedication

MIRRORING – When one person copies another, it is called mirroring. It often means the two people are in synch with one another.

  • Bill, Dubya and HW: When a self-confident person puts his hands in his pockets, it may indicate he is uncomfortable with the people around him. Unless his hands are cold or his joints ache, HW’s hand clasp is likely a wheelchair appropriate variation on his son’s hands in pockets gesture. All three men appear to be avoiding eye contact with the three Big Losers in the room. And lest anyone think this is partisan or racist, Clinton is a Democrat and Carter is white.
  • Barack and Michelle: Crossed arms are usually associated with self-protection, indicating the person feels threatened (unless they’re just cold).

PROXIMITY – For Americans, it is appropriate for friends and associates to space themselves 18″ to 4′ apart and create an open circle while talking.

  • Because there is clearly a photographer in the room, the open semi-circle from Barbara to Dubya is appropriate. Barack’s position in this semi-circle deliberately excludes Carter. Carter’s loose arms and big smile suggest he may be too dim-witted to get that his fellow Democrat is belittling him.
  • Former First Ladies – Three of them aren’t even in the picture. Michelle is scowling and pouting. Only the supremely self-confident and wry Babsy Bush is smiling and has positioned her body to relate appropriately with her husband, son and Clinton.


Filed under Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Michelle Obama

5 responses to “Body Language at the Bush Library dedication

  1. Ting

    I heard that Barbara Bush said it was time for another family to have a go at the Presidency. I don’t know what she actually meant by that remark, but I would hate to see another Bush or Clinton in the White House. It is just too much to have these dynasties – I do not approve of that at all.

    It is really interesting to see the Obamas so closed in on them selves, though. As much as I dislike them, I don’t like to think of them feeling threatened, as the body language implies.


    • Violet

      Yay Barbara B! Thank heavens for her voice of reason. There is no way Jeb belongs in the Oval Office.

      On the topic of BO and MO feeling threatened in this shot…I don’t really think they do (see BO leaning in to W with a grin, while W unconsciously leans back a little, and turns his head slightly away). I think they’re the only openly exclusionary people in this image. While the Bushes and Clinton seem mildly uncomfortable in each other’s presence, they are adult enough to be sociable. OTOH, BO is purposely edging Carter out of the discussion, and MO can’t even be bothered to join the group. This looks more like immature antisocial behavior than a reaction to a perceived threat. The arm-folding is simply a mechanism to keep the lowly from invading their precious personal space (don’t touch the king). This is a situation where BO shares the same elevated status as the rest of the group. It probably bothers him that he’s not the most important person in the room, but I don’t think he feels threatened; just annoyed.


      • Obozo was annoyed, all right, especially given how many people miss having GWB as president… including people like me, who complained about him all the time when he was president, because of his profligate spending. Even then I knew that things could be worse, that we could end up with a president whose spending habits would make GWB look downright miserly and tight-fisted. Beware of ever thinking that things can’t get any worse.

        Anyway, Obozo got to make his stupid little speech, which as usual was all about him, so he probably left feeling pretty good.


        • chrissythehyphenated

          I interpreted the arm crossing as a result of their constant habit of surrounding themselves only with boot lickers. To be in the presence of true peers … multiple former POTUS and FLOTUS … had to have been agonizing. IMHO, both of them are damaged goods, people who hate themselves and behave the way they do because they need constant reassurance that they’re not worthless.


          • Oh, they’re NOT worthless. Worthless would be an improvement. When I once worked as a civil servant, a manager once explained to me why there are so many useless civil employees. He explained that there are 3 kinds of govt employee. The first is the proactive, brilliant, useful kind. These are nice to have, but potentially dangerous. The second is the lazy kind that just take up space. These don’t accomplish much, but at least they don’t cause much trouble. The third is the ambitious troublemaker. Sometimes these are hard to tell from the #1s. Usually, it’s safer to fill your organization with #2s, because there’s NOTHING worse than the #3s. The third type of employee can bring down whole organizations and get you indicted without cause. They cause destruction, death and misery. Obama and Michelle are both #3s.