Mr Unity Turns His Back on Opponent and Then Shakes the Hand of The Divider

They say a picture speaks a thousands words. Well tonight there’s a photo from the SOTU, that is certainly stirring up the conversation. For all the talk from Barack Obama about being a unifier, I’m among the many who wonder why he turned his back as Hillary Clinton reached out to shake Ted Kennedy’s hand:


Now it might have been a coincidence, but that is not the way this scene has been widely reported:

Clinton, clad in scarlet, crossed the aisle between their seats on the House floor and reached out a hand to greet Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the Democratic icon whose endorsement she had courted only to lose it to Obama.

Kennedy shook her hand while Obama, wearing a dark suit and standing between the two, turned away.

Frank James on The Swamp notes an even more harsh view of what happened:

Sen. Barack Obama refused to make himself available to greet Sen. Hillary Clinton before the speech.

When members of the Senate entered the chamber, Obama came in before Clinton. He went out of his way to greet as many House members as possible and walked halfway across the chamber to greet members of the Supreme Court, the president’s cabinet, the military joint chiefs.

That made what happened next even more striking. Obama returned to stand by his seat next to Sen. Edward Kennedy who endorsed Obama today in a widely watched event that reverberated across the political world.

As Clinton approached, Kennedy made sure to make eye contact and indicated he wanted to shake her hand. Clinton leaned towards Kennedy over a row of seats and Kennedy leaned in towards her. They shook hands.

Obama stood icily staring at Clinton during this, then turned his back and stepped a few feet away. Kennedy may’ve wanted to make peace with Clinton but Obama clearly wanted no part of that.

And he adds:

The sense in the press gallery was that Obama didn’t cover himself in glory. Someone even used the word “childish.” (Not this writer.) Judging by how much conversation there was about this brush off in the press gallery, Americans will be hearing a lot more about this tomorrow and in coming days.

But here’s the irony… Barack Obama could not be bothered to acknowledge Hillary Clinton, his rival in the race for the Democratic nomination, and then after the SOTU speech he shook the hand of The Divider:


The Hill notes:

After his speech, Bush sought out Kennedy, his former partner in education reform, to exchange greetings. He also shook Obama’s hand and said hello in typical Bush fashion: “Hey buddy, how’s it going,” he said, according to Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who also sat next to Obama for the speech.

Bush’s SOTU speech got little attention (much as Clinton’s pre-buttal that I noted earlier), what with all the “Camelot ’08” news of the day. Yet for all the glowing endorsements of Obama the “unity” candidate, we saw a glimpse of Obama that was not so glowing, for indeed, “if Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton exchanged pleasantries in the Capitol last night, the camera missed it.”

Apparently the myth has been exposed in more ways than one. And it’s the “talk of the town.”


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About Pamela Leavey

Pamela Leavey is the Editor in Chief, Owner/Publisher of The Democratic Daily as well as a freelance writer and photographer. Pamela holds a certificate in Contemporary Communications from UMass Lowell, a Journalism Certificate from UMass Amherst and a B.A. in Creative Writing and Digital Age Communications from UMass Amherst UWW.
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24 Responses to Mr Unity Turns His Back on Opponent and Then Shakes the Hand of The Divider

  1. Meher says:

    Interesting …. I am not from the USA but am following the campaign closely. I guess what you are from inside has to come out in the open one day or the next.

    I guess HRC made the first move to reconcile like most women do by going across to a point where she would not be compromised or be made to look foolish and was civil enough to wish everyone but looks like BO has a bad taste in his mouth or i guess he is another BUSH “you are either with me or against me”.

    We often see in Indian politics no matter how deep the fissures run there is always cordiality maintained in front of the cameras between the top leaders of any political party.

    I guess this is a PR oppurtunity that BO just lost.

    Consider this :

    1. He shows disrespect towards a woman. Ted atleast shook her hand and so did BO’s other endorsers.

    2. He was in the senate house and technically she is a colleague so he should have acknowledged her if not shake hands or talk to her.

    3. He describes Bush by saying that he is just one part of a “broken” political system “”that says it’s OK to demonize your political opponents when we should be coming together to solve problems.”

    This guy talks about uniting people and change well I expected more from a person like that.


    Being a man I can definately say that was a sexist and a chauvenistic thing to do.

    Man chin up you have not lost yet and you are no hypocrite either so why are you acting like a bad loser.

  2. Dizzy Dezzi says:

    Wow. Just, wow. I cannot believe that Obama did that. I work around a lot of people I don’t really like, but I would never project that in a public setting, particularly with so many eyes watching. As a public figure, you should always handle those “awkward” displays with grace. It makes you look like the better person in the end (the whole more flies with honey vs vinegar meme). You can bet the media and the Clinton camp are going to totally play this up. I just didn’t think that Obama could be that unbelievably rude to a colleague, even if she is is sworn nemesis…and then add insult to injury by shaking the hands of the most hateful person on the planet, (next to Cheney, of course).

    Wow. Just, wow.

  3. CST says:

    I second that wow. This only advances this notion that Obama is the one who will say anything to get elected. All of these sound bites the media shoves down our throats showing Obama and his “unifying” message should be replaced today with a picture of this man turning his back on a collegue. This guy is from Chicago and I’m sure turning your back on someone is the biggest sign of disrespect you can show a person. The Hillary haters will applaud this but bottom-line….it was low-class and beneath someone of his intelligence.

  4. Bacalove says:

    “The reason why it looked like Obama did not acknowledge Clinton is because Obama, being the Polite man that he is, was just trying to move out of their away and give Hillary and Ted some space — some quiet time — trying not to be intrusive or try to rub salt into the wound by looking on, which some might think would be gloating. By being polite, it is being translated as rudeness — damn if you do and damn if don’t!”

  5. Danw says:

    Well there will always be one person who is soo sold on obama they can’t even see the look on Obama’s face and make a judgement. Bacalove, you have no deductive reasoning. I for one think Obama is all part of the same system that controls Bush and Cheney. Just look at all the connections he has to them, and look at clear channel’s overwhelming support of him.

  6. Well, there’s “his intention” and then there’s the way it came across to people watching. He may have indeed been trying to be “gracious”, yet it certainly didn’t come across that way (like when he told Clinton she was “likable enough” in the N.H. debate). From the video replay, it seems odd he would have “stepped out of the way” to let Kennedy and her talk without shaking her hand first.

    I’m leaning Obama for next week (full disclosure), but I would agree with the HRC supporters that is was probably a snub. And a silly one at that.

  7. By being polite? You mean when your #1 opponent leans across a row of seats, an uncomfortable physical position, she’s hoping for a long, intimate talk with a Senate collegue?

    This was another showing of the ‘Chicago’ politican, the careful opponent that has to use ‘passive-aggressive’ attacks embedded in early speeches instead of direct confrontation; the man that acts outraged by a reference to MLK or Jesse Jackson but refuses to disavow the purely racial comments of Jesse Jackson, Jr. a few weeks earlier.

    If this man gets our nomination we are trouble. He may be pissed at Bill Clinton. But rudeness on the HIll has no place in a campaign.

    But he’s got no one but himself to blame for leaving himself open to examination on so many levels.

    Only now that as the press gotten over their fear of being called ‘racist’ and begun to truly examine Barrack Obama. By we have only seven days until a potential decision point.

    What a sad way for Senator Obama to show disrespect, while once again leaving himself a dozen or more ways to ‘explain it way’. That’s his greatest talent.

  8. Lama says:

    This post and the comments are the height of delusional bullshit. If anything, Obama has not been forceful enough in combating the countless smears and lies of the Clintons. Finally they have tried to destroy him as a brand and he has become sick of it. The passive-aggressiveness is on Clinton’s part.

  9. Clint says:

    He should be ashamed. This behavior is beneath someone who wants to be President of the USA!

    I was leaning towards Obama, but I don’t like the way the media is promoting him so much. This along with his snub of Clinton, makes me think she is the one I should support!

    If the media is for Obama, all of us should support Hillary! You know the media was for Bush and look what that got us!

  10. Lama says:

    Oh really, Clint? I guess we should vote for the pro-war corporate establishment Democrat over the anti-war liberal reformer because the media is mean to her? Get a clue.

  11. Joko says:

    Wow…there are many idiots here on this little corner of the interweb. Hilarious!!

    The women sound like shrill Hillary wannabe’s and the men (like Clint and the Indian dude) sound like a chorus of ball-less castrato.

  12. i says:

    Although I spend plenty of time reading up on what’s going on, I seldom post a comment. If the format is not acceptable, my apologies. However, you might want to take a look at the “other” photo taken afterwards, if you haven’t already. It was released from the Associated Press : LINK

  13. Jane Doe says:

    Oh come on. Where do you folks come off interpreting someone’s intentions from a still photo? You must have be something cuz I’m not that good. And you let Pamela here lead you to that conclusion without a bit of objective evidence. Will you be that superficial when you decide who to vote for?

  14. i Said: on January 29th, 2008 at 9:12 am

    The post is already linked to that page. Thank you.

  15. Lama writes: “This post and the comments are the height of delusional bullshit.”

    I’m assuming we can include yours as well.

    “I guess we should vote for the pro-war corporate establishment Democrat over the anti-war liberal reformer because the media is mean to her? Get a clue.”

    LOL. Anti-war? Making one speech about it, then voting to keep funding it *every single time* it comes up, for years on end, ain’t exactly anti-war, liberal, or what a “reformer” does. I’m voting for the guy, but keep it in perspective. You want anti-war and consistency? Russ Feingold.

    “Joko” writes: “The women sound like shrill Hillary wannabe’s and the men (like Clint and the Indian dude) sound like a chorus of ball-less castrato.”

    Spoken like one who would know, from the sound of it.

  16. Clibama Supporter says:

    I think this is too much. I’m not convinced it was rude. This is like all the hand-wringing” over Sen. Clinton being *gasp* a woman! Obama might be — horrors — aloof at times! I think we should cut them both some slack. We’ll have to rally around one of them soon enough.

  17. Dorothy says:

    It leaves one wondering if this is how he will conduct himself when in the presence of foreign leaders he doesn’t like. Shame on him. And he preaches “I’m a uniter- not a divider”. Not only does he sound like George W. Bush, but he apparently acts like him too. His word obviously can’t be trusted.

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  19. Celested9 says:

    Obama snubbed Hillary….The pictures tell the story.

    Petulant and childish…we have seen this behavior numerous times from Obama.

    1) the likable enough comment. 2) the threat of knowing about dirty politics from having grown up in Chicago. 3) the remark that HIS supporters might not support Hillary if she were the nominee, hinting that perhaps he might not be uniting behind the nominee.
    AND now this childish dissing of a colleague when she walked over to greet Teddy and Obama.

    Obama has had to explain his immature behavior over and over. Come on….we have had 7 years of immature and petulant…do we really want that again?

  20. Percy says:

    Amazing. The excuses from Obama supporters about his once again childish behavior. Obama claims that Clair wanted to ask him a question and he turned to answer it. So what does that say about his judgement and grace? He HAD to see Hillary…..and he should have made an effort to be gracious. IF he was diverted, he should have acknowledged the person and THEN greeted Hillary. His judgement is off, and his childish, prvileged character took over, once again. How is he going to be with foreign leaders? He “should” know the polite rules of this society, and can’t handle them… how in the heck can he be with foreign leaders? Scary. Inexcusable. At the picture of him and his new BFF Teddy, leaning in, buddy buddy looking at Hillary. Two photos… telling. Obama, “could have” been a gentlman and made his way to Hillary then. Oh my the Uniter shows his colors. Get this Obama supporters…he will just as soon turn his back on you too. Even George W. Bush, maybe not a good president….yet ALWAYS a gentlelman. He would have NEVER done something like that.

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  23. lewisg says:

    I dont know how you can conclude from a snap photo that he was intentionally snubbing her. That is a huge leap! if someone followed anyone of us around and snapped a photo they could play it up as any number of things, you cant tell from that photo if someone else was trying to get his attention or what! I am not an OB fan but the way this is presented is so typical of the old spin tactics game. Next week they will be throwing Ms. Clinton under the bus again its good for the media and ratings game but little else!!!

  24. M. L. Arant says:

    While I understand the tension that has to exist between the two candidates, Obama’s inability to possess the grace it takes to shake Senator Clinton’s hand reveals the immaturity to his character but more importantly, his political experience as well as. These are the mistakes that cannot be made when the next US President takes the reins. We are skirting disaster internationally; we have internal failure economically as well as socially, and environmental repercussions that will impact mankind. This unfortunate behavior, coupled with his careless statements about his off hand commentary of dealing with Pakistanian issues and lack of reality about Iraq, leads me to believe that Obama is not presidential material yet.