Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Bush hug -- Classy or Annoying?

One milestone seems to have been missed this week among all the pomp, circumstance and history: America's first post-inaugural presidential hug. When President Obama wrapped his arms around former President George W. Bush's back for a quick squeeze, it marked the first time that history has recorded more than an emotional handshake between president and predecessor.

This captures a trend that's always bothered me -- guys shifting from handshake greetings to hug greetings. It's a quick hug, I know, sort of a slap on the back. But still -- it's too much. Family and long-lost friends? Fine. But for a friend you saw just a week or a month ago? When did a handshake not become enough for that?
And not everyone qualifies for it, making it even more awkward when you're greeting a group. So the close friend gets a hug, but what do you with the fairly regular acquaitance who's standing next to him? Upgrade to the hug, or make his lower-tier status clear by switching to the shake?

These are protocol questions regular guys face regulary, and now it's reached the presidential level. This may have been Barack Obama's first serious mistake in office.