Am I the only one who saw weakness when President Obama and his departing chief of staff Rahm Emanuel gave each other big, fat, full-bore hug following their speeches at the resignation event in the White House’s East Room on Friday? (You can watch it here)
Remember, this is on global television. And it has to do with the very top of the United States government. Our friends and enemies were all watching.
I think the hug lacked dignity.
It did not send a message of American power and forcefulness. So I fret about the reaction around the world to this kind of fraternity-like emotionalism in full public view.
Why not just a dignified, stand-up, serious handshake? That’s what Reagan would have done. A strong handshake shows friendship, respect, and even affection. But a big fat hug seems to go over the line.
Perhaps I’m overreacting to this. But when it comes to the presidency and the behavior of our top leaders, I think the image we want to send at home and abroad is one of serious strength of purpose. Not some kind of collegiate squeeze. Somehow the Obama-Emanuel embrace seemed demeaning — to the presidency, to our officialdom, and to our strength of purpose.
Alright, let me move on to another point of weakness: Rahm Emanuel will be replaced by Pete Rouse, a White House insider who formerly worked in the Senate for leading Democratic liberals Tom Daschle, Dick Durbin, and, yes, Barack Obama.