It’s appears that way to me. The timing, the gesture, the sheer passive-aggressiveness of the act, which would fit Obama’s passive-aggressive campaign, couldn’t be simply a habitual gesture. Judge for yourself.
I’ll withhold most of my profane reactions to this classless, deliberate playing to a young audience who have no political history to use as an anchor point for judgment. Barack Obama is an ass. And you can bet Hillary Clinton, in private, will react much, much more strongly. [I hope she keeps Bill away from any cameras for 24 hours, at least, to let him cool off.]
I also hope she demands a public apology and lets him refuse to give her one. He’s played one too many passive-aggressive campaign games.
UPDATE (7.58 pm pst by Pamela Leavey): The Swamp has picked up on this (emphasis mine):
Sen. Barack Obama was on the stump today in Raleigh, N.C., the day after his debate in Philadelphia with Sen. Hillary Clinton. Have a look at his body language when he spoke of the sort of debate it was — a “gotcha” fest — and about Clinton being “in her element.”
“Last night, Sen. Clinton and I had our 21st debate of the year,” Obama said today. “Last night, I think we set a new record, because it took us 45 minutes before we even started talking about a single issue that matters to the American people.
“I don’t blame Washington for this, because that’s just how Washington is,” he said. “They like stirring up controversy. They like playing gotcha games…
.. and I would say Sen. Clinton was in her element.”
And that’s the part of the videotape, courtesy of Fox News, where viewers need to pay some attention to the hand that Obama raised to his face, and the finger with which he scratched it.
And before the “finger” there was the “Snub.”
UPDATE 2 (11.15 pm pst by Pamela Leavey): For the sake of those arguing against the gesture here’s a freeze frame from the CBS video that captures the gesture at a different angle (from what I can see the index finger is bent down in the shot):
UPDATE 3 (11.30 pm pst by Pamela Leavey): From the LA Times Blog Top of the Ticket: Barack Obama makes a one-fingered gesture while speaking of Hillary Clinton
This is one of those political moments that really needs few words.
We’ll no doubt hear much more about this incident in coming days. [...]
The presidential candidate raises his right hand to seemingly scratch his cheek.
He doesn’t use his whole hand though. Just one finger. Briefly. A couple of strokes.
He pauses. He smiles slyly as the crowd begins to mumble and then he tries, somewhat distracted, to continue his remarks, smiling as the buzz spreads through the crowd.
He’ll no doubt deny it later, but that mischievous smile seems to confirm plenty. And the crowd sure sees something.