Reading presidential body language

Ex-, current and soon-to-be Presidents

As just about everyone who pays attention probably knows by now, the Bush White House today convened a Presidents Club luncheon, consisting of the 3 surviving ex-presidents, the White House’s current occupant, and Barack Obama, who in less than three weeks will be setting up shop in the Oval Office.

I find the photo above to be fascinating as a study in body language. George W. Bush stands front and center, but seems nervously out-of-place, with his awkward smirk and cocked left foot. Barack Obama is both leaning and looking away from the current president, speaking with his father. There is a strange stiffness in his comportment, as if simply standing in close proximity to “Dubya” is creating negative energy. GHWB stands at the end, hand outstretched in mid-sentence, in a position that suggests either patting a child on the head or pushing them away.

Bill Clinton stands grinning wistfully, hands behind his back, contemplating, perhaps, his own personal history (and I mean personal) in the very room in which the five men now stand.

And Jimmy Carter knows exactly what’s on Bill’s mind.

I’ll leave you to ponder the merits, or lack thereof, of my decision to omit an apostrophe in the phrase “Presidents Club.”