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Kisses, Hand Shakes and Skin Dominate Bush's Last SOTU

The scene on the House floor at tonight's State of the Union wasn't much different than previous years -- including the annual handshake hogs who staked out seats on the aisle so they could shake the president's hand (before national television cameras) as he entered and left the House chamber.


Arriving for his State of the Union address, President Bush greets Reps. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), second from right, and Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), right. (Tracy A. Woodward / The Washington Post)

The only difference this year was that one of the regular hand shakers, Rep. Chris Shays (R-Conn.), went a bit further -- he kissed President Bush on the cheek.

Shays and the president had a brief whispery conversation, then as Bush pulled away from their embrace to continue his walk to the podium, Shays kissed the president lightly on the cheek.

This, of course, makes Chris Shays the new Michele Bachmann, the Minnesota Republican congresswoman who famously kissed Bush -- on the lips -- at last year's State of the Union. No response yet from Shays or his office.

As he has every year on this night since the beginning of the the Bush I administration, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) arrived early in the chamber to snag an aisle seat. And sure enough, as he has so many years with three different presidents, Engel got that handshake he came for. And he even got a few seconds of personal banter with POTUS as he exited the House -- but no kiss.

Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), who is no fan of the president yet is a card-carrying member of the SOTU handshake club, got her few seconds of fame as the president walked out -- a handshake and fleeting exchange of words with the leader of the economically shaky free world. Again, no k-i-s-s-i-n-g.

One key difference in the president's delivery this year, we noticed -- besides saving the traditional, innocuous "the state of the union is strong" line for the very end of his speech -- was that he actually pronounced the word "nuclear" correctly.

He didn't say "nucular" -- the way he has so often when referring to "nucular weapons" -- when he touted "emissions free nuclear energy." Though, later in his speech, he slipped in a "nucular" when talking about Iran's possible intentions to build a nuclear weapon.


Did the Bush twins cross the line with their sleeveless look at their dad's last State of the Union? (Tracy A. Woodward / The Washington Post)

Elsewhere in the chamber, Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) sat with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), who seemed to be still basking in the glow of Kennedy's endorsement. Kennedy's son, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.), sat behind his father and Obama (a much better camera shot for him, by the way, than had he sat next to his father.)

Up in the gallery, the first twins, Jenna and Barbara Bush, came close to breaking the House dress code. Both went sleeveless for this year's State of the Union, Jenna in a little black dress, Barbara in a sleeveless white shirt (though with a little ruffle that covered more of her arms than Jenna's).

By Mary Ann Akers  |  January 28, 2008; 11:24 PM ET
 
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Next: Kisses, Snubs and Oversights at State of the Union

Comments

Wheres the pic showing Obama snubbing Ms Clintons handshake?

I guess that pics too far off the wapo's agenda.

Posted by: ciap | January 29, 2008 1:17 AM | Report abuse

Where is the coverage of the "handshake snub?" That was the most contentious part of the entire evening.

Posted by: Stephen C. | January 29, 2008 1:54 AM | Report abuse

You should have caught the audio that went with Ms. Jackson-Lee's handshake - Fox was listening in and you heard part of what she said "...my brother..." LOL My right hand to God!

Posted by: BostonMaggie | January 29, 2008 9:20 AM | Report abuse

And the audio (not sure which channel I was watching) caught another congresswoman gush something about "Mr. President, you make me proud to be an American". Ugh.

Posted by: dc | January 29, 2008 10:20 AM | Report abuse

Anyone catch Obama brush Clinton aside? Why does no one report on this man??!

Posted by: CL | January 29, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Hmm, the Obama picture was one of two from the speech in the Minneapolis Strib, admittedly inside rather than on the front page, but it was Bush's closing coda, after all. Plenty of coverage that I've seen. And, let's be honest, the Clintons' bashing of Obama wouldn't lead me to believe that he can honestly feel any friendship towards Hilary. Or would everyone feel better with pretense?

Posted by: william p. | January 29, 2008 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I really do wish the Bush twins would grow up and into the roles expected of them based on their being raised in the highest echelons of rank and privelege in this country. They are in their mid-20s after all -- young women who have been handed everything, including great educations. Why don't they 1) get a good haircut, and, 2) dress for the occasion. Certainly with their trust funds they can afford to go shopping for something suitable. How can they not know, with Laura for a mom and Barbara for a grandmother?

Posted by: gottabeanon | January 29, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I wish Mrs. Bush had had a more active, visible role in her time as First Lady. She is warm, charming, intelligent and popular. I believe she is as asset to the President and the country. Perhaps it is her own choice to maintain a low-profile but these few glimpses we do see of her are all positive.

Posted by: Roseann | January 29, 2008 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Clinton never attempted to shake Obama's hand. Neither one of them made an overture to the other in that scene, though I read somewhere else that they had contact outside.

Posted by: Laura | January 29, 2008 12:44 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect, this article is nothing but fluff and Britney-Lohan tabloidish tripe. Where's the "terrorists are gonna get you if you don't pass my domestic spy legislation," or "Iran & Islamo-fascism are going to get us if we don't kill 'em first" rhetoric critique? How about citing false terror threats and plots as reason to continue our War of Terror overseas? Nothing?? Just kissing, photo ops and Bush twins bearing bare arms? Wow....

Posted by: djfresh23 | January 29, 2008 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I especially did NOT watch the lame ducks swan song. I was sure it would contain as many lies, half truths, good news about Iraq etc. etc. We have another year to try to avoid these so why look for stupidity?

Posted by: bill page | January 29, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Considering what most 20-somethings wear on the Hill and in general, I don't have a problem with sleeveless. It does get warm in there with all the people and the lights. Move on folks.

BTW, tell me Chelsea wasn't handed her 6-figure job in NYC? Did she teach in a charter school? Or write a book? Or spend time in South America? Nope. She went to England, what Oxford? Funny how people forget these things.

Posted by: WDC 21113 | January 29, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

I see the "Presidential" elections turning into a racist election, black v white, I live in Australia, I wonder can republicans vote for the democrats in the primaries, thus changing the result, to ensure they have a Democrat Candidate that would make it easier for the republicans to win,

Posted by: athair_siochain | January 29, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

How about a comment on Robert Kennedy's children: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend the former lieutenant governor of Maryland, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. an environmental advocate and Kerry Kennedy a human rights activist endorsing Sen. Hillary Clinton. Read the LA Times. wonderful news!

Posted by: Dorothy Grimes | January 29, 2008 6:52 PM | Report abuse

WOW, what a sick way in which to blast a good man. I guess all the dems have to "make up" for Bill Clinton's extreme immoral behavior. To attack the twins in sleeveless shirts. How stupid... I hope our next President has the heart Bush has. A President that wants to give babies a chance to make a decision instead of giving a woman (that made a mistake) undo her mistake and kill a life.

Posted by: Star Snow | January 29, 2008 9:34 PM | Report abuse

get over it Star Snow, that's the media for you

Posted by: Anonymous | January 30, 2008 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Yah, gotta save them unborn babies so we can send them to war and protect our oil.

Posted by: TM | January 30, 2008 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I wish I had an abortion

Posted by: TM's mom | January 30, 2008 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Typical response from out of touch S-H-I-T for brains pro life advocate

Posted by: Anonymous | January 31, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

When did this kissing/bussing come into male fashion? Seems like bits from old Mafia movies...

Posted by: Spectator | January 31, 2008 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Everyone just chill. Obama waved to Hillary while in line before they entered the chamber. Other congress men and women saw it. She never got to greet Sen Kennedy before entering the chamber. The press started a big thing with this and Hillary is now playing you all again, like she did with the tears. Come on everyone, wise up to the Clintons, please.

Posted by: Colleen, Pearl River La. | January 31, 2008 4:08 PM | Report abuse

S-H-I-T for brains S-H-I-T for brains S-H-I-T for brains

Posted by: Anonymous | February 3, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

sounds like Ms Akers has the hots for the Bush twins

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