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.”