Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's Body Language

By my count, Barack Obama kissed at least two dozen women on his way in and out of the House last night, but the affectionate post-speech highlight was a quick back rub from Sen. Barbara Boxer, who had been seen having an ecstatic reaction during the President's words on health care reform.

There were hugs, too, many of them for men, including his polar political opposite, Republican Sen. Tom Coburn, for whom Obama expressed friendship during the campaign.

Not to make too much of it, but all this body language reflects an extraordinary ability to connect with people beyond the routine political pressing of the flesh with a wary fixed smile.

During the speech, some reactions from Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden were animated well beyond the usual, but apparently Obama's sensory appeal has its limits. Close-ups of Mitch McConnell and John Boehner showed them looking blank and immobilized, pretty much the way they had been during the weeks of debate on the stimulus bill.

It looks like we have a long way to go before Republicans get all touchy-feely.

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