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Tilting at Windmills

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October 4, 2010

LARRY KUDLOW NEEDS A HUG.... The White House held a nice going-away ceremony for Rahm Emanuel on Friday, with President Obama thanking his former chief of staff for his service, and giving him a warm embrace as Emanuel departed.

Conservative media personality Larry Kudlow didn't like it, and argued, in all seriousness, that the president shouldn't hug people when "our enemies" are "watching." (via Josh Marshall)

I think the hug lacked dignity. It did not send a message of American power and forcefulness. So I fret about the reaction around the world to this kind of fraternity-like emotionalism in full public view.

Why not just a dignified, stand-up, serious handshake? That's what Reagan would have done. A strong handshake shows friendship, respect, and even affection. But a big fat hug seems to go over the line.

Perhaps I'm overreacting to this. But when it comes to the presidency and the behavior of our top leaders, I think the image we want to send at home and abroad is one of serious strength of purpose. Not some kind of collegiate squeeze. Somehow the Obama-Emanuel embrace seemed demeaning -- to the presidency, to our officialdom, and to our strength of purpose.

Just to be clear, in case there are any doubts, Kudlow isn't kidding, and this isn't satire intended to make conservatives look ridiculous. Indeed, this also wasn't the CNBC host just riffing off the top of his head -- he published this in a print column. In other words, Kudlow had time to think about this anti-hug argument, and he ran with it anyway.

For what it's worth, I searched Google Images for "Bush hug" and found all kinds of images of the former president hugging his supporters, hugging John McCain, hugging foreign heads of state, and even hugging Barack Obama. As far as I can tell, Kudlow never whined about it.

Kudlow's column asks, "Am I the only one who saw weakness" in the presidential hug? Yep, Larry, you are.

Steve Benen 10:10 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (43)

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truly ridiculous - and as such it is enough to say it is truly ridiculous without having to go down the bush did it line. Even if Bush never hugged anyone in his life and presented resolute handshakes to all he met, kudlow's column would still be utterly ridiculous.

Posted by: homerhk on October 4, 2010 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

LOL...Is this all they've got? Pathetic!

Posted by: larry the clown on October 4, 2010 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

WOW! Talk about "Obamaa Derangement Syndrome!"
At least those of us accused of "Bush Derangement Syndrome" had some basis, like unnecessary wars, civil and privacy rights being abused and denied, torture, etc...
But a hug?
Larry, either get off the ledge or do us all a favor and jump.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 4, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

This sums up the never ending gripes about Pres. Obama on the right, he's weak in every move he makes to them. It's crap, of course. Does he breath in and out properly Larry, I doubt it?

Posted by: Kathryn on October 4, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

What about holding hands with foreign leaders? Nothing says macho masculinity more than holding hands with Saudi princes, does it?

Posted by: marc in denver on October 4, 2010 at 10:17 AM | PERMALINK

One point on which I disagree. Larry wasn't the only one who saw weakness when Obama hugged Rahm. Any hypocritical Republican douchebag who sees a crippled economy as great for their party, and wishes our nation harm that they may profit, saw weakness as well. Anyone with a conscience and a soul saw two colleagues hugging. Hope that helps you better understand who's a douchebag and who's not.

Posted by: slappy magoo on October 4, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

I didn't have to use Google. I still remember Bush doing the chest bump with a servie academy (can't remember which one--shoulda Googled it) graduate. Good lord. These people really will whine about everything.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on October 4, 2010 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps Kudlow was reacting to the implied same-sex miscegenation, which was instrumental in the fall of the Roman Empire.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on October 4, 2010 at 10:20 AM | PERMALINK

Made the mistake of clicking the link, and reading the comments. Now I need to shower.

Posted by: Kevin Ray on October 4, 2010 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

And we mustn't forget the time Bush tried to give a shoulder massage to a fellow head of state during a meeting. I'm sure Angela Merkel has not forgotten, it looked like he scared the dickens out of her.

Posted by: Grammy Pat on October 4, 2010 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

What hatchery did these "people" come from?

Posted by: d on October 4, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Good Lord, they really will complain about anything and everything won't they?

Posted by: ckelly on October 4, 2010 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

Where I come from only gay men hug. Maybe that rumor about that male prostitute Obama hired is true.

Posted by: Myke K on October 4, 2010 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

I thought it was OK for the pres to hug another guy as long as they are both wearing their suit jackets. Isn't that the rule? (If they take off their jackets, civilization instantly ends.)

What would Kudlow say if Obama went to France and Sarkozy kissed him on the cheeks? Do they still do that in France? Would Kudlow burst into flames?

Posted by: Tim H on October 4, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

Possibly the stupidest frigging thing I've ever heard. Kudlow is such an asshat.

Posted by: kw on October 4, 2010 at 10:33 AM | PERMALINK

I expect that Kudlow approved of an exhibit of presidential power and domination a few years ago when George Bush gave an unsolicited shoulder/neck massage to an obviously shocked and uncomfortable German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Posted by: Larry Reilly on October 4, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

I'm sure our enemies have the endless insecurities of Ludlow and today's conservatives as their top priority and only focus.

Posted by: Silver Owl on October 4, 2010 at 10:34 AM | PERMALINK

Lying your country into a war, however, is completely acceptable behavior for a president.

Posted by: ripdash on October 4, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

I'm actually much more worried that our enemies will read Kudlow's drivel, and the comments to it, and figure out just how stupid America's become.

Posted by: azportsider on October 4, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

Kudlow has certain gifts of punditry - oversimplification, brevity, excitability, and ideological bias. He's perfect for CNBC, a network that helped pave the road to our current hell. What a gift Obama proved to be, willing to shoulder the responsibility for the results of their fervent belief in Randian free-lunch economics. The hug? Just another irrelevant detail in their bill of particulars.

Posted by: walt on October 4, 2010 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

This is the same supply sider that wants to cut off funds for social programs that helped him overcome being a coke head!!

Posted by: Ted76 on October 4, 2010 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I met Kudlow once nine years ago or so and his handshake included tickling the palm of my hand with his middle finger.

His fly was wide open, and he attempted the old Wall Streeters trick of reaching around and lifting my wallet from my back pocket as he pulled me close for the ritual tongue-bathing of my ear.

His breath smelled of anchovies, pond scum, and toejam.

While taken aback, of course, I attached no further importance to the behavior until the next morning when al Qaeda flew the planes into the WTC.

Clearly, Osama Bin Laden had been awaiting a signal from the manly vermin in the Republican Party.

Posted by: Countme? on October 4, 2010 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Another coke fueled blitz on logic. Larry was, is and always has been a tool- Bear Stearns-> cocaine outing-> CNBC-> gibberish on a regular basis...

Posted by: KK on October 4, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

oh, and while an Economist at BS no one was more consistently wrong with estimates. We used to laugh at his guesses, always wrong.

Posted by: KK on October 4, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

George W Bush was an impresario of undignified, unserious behavior. Previous commenters have already mentioned the unwanted neck massages and hand holding of Saudi princes.

I remember him dancing a stupid little jig in front of the Whitehouse press corps.

I remember him telling the press to "watch this drive" after commenting on the war in terror.

I remember him not being able to figure out which door to go through or how to open it in China.

I remember him waiving to a citizen, like an idiot, after exiting his helicopter and the citizen refusing to waive back.

I remember him kissing Joe Lieberman.

What did Kudlow write about these displays of weakness?

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 4, 2010 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Geez, Larry, if only you were President, then, you could have been ever soooo Presidential standing there with your nose twitching and sniffing.

Posted by: berttheclock on October 4, 2010 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Yeah, Larry, hugs indicate weakness. Only manly kisses, like the Russians do, are macho enough for you.

Posted by: Tom Allen on October 4, 2010 at 11:11 AM | PERMALINK

Idiotic. Bush held hands and kissed Arab leaders on the cheek. That didn't happen in the 17th century, it takes 2 seconds to find:

Both of these events actually don't bother me one little bit, even though I hate George W. Bush. It's actually one of the few culturally sensitive things I can think of him doing.

Posted by: Rathskeller on October 4, 2010 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

You know what weakens America? Spending trillions propping up corrupt incompetent regimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and cold war era weapons systems with no practical use today.

You know what weakens America? Handing our economy over to those that would sell our future down the river to multi-national corporations and sovereign wealth funds for a quick buck today.

You know what weakens America? Embracing dimwitted crackpots who can't even do simple arithmetic as the future of governance.

You know what weakens America? Giving credence to coke-heads like Larry Kudlow about anything, let alone his opinions on Obama.

Posted by: Rip on October 4, 2010 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

-Another straw grasped; Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan, redux. Yawn.

Posted by: DAY on October 4, 2010 at 11:19 AM | PERMALINK

Yea, what a punk,,,

Obama ought to have planted a goober in Rham's ear,
That's what Doobya would have done.


Posted by: cwolf on October 4, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

So Larry Kudlow (and Myke K) are uncomfortable see two guys hug. Don't really know, but I sense someone is not altogether secure vis a vis their sexual oritation.

Posted by: J. Frank Parnell on October 4, 2010 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

Bush falling off a segway. in his shorts. bush rubbing the heads of bald men.

Posted by: g on October 4, 2010 at 12:35 PM | PERMALINK

"So I fret about the reaction around the world to this kind of fraternity-like emotionalism"

He Frets?
Who the hell Frets?
"Oh jeepers, there's president hussein obama hugging again. Gosh, i hate when he does that. Why does he do that? I'm sure that's ok in far off lands like hawaii, but not in the whitehouse. That darned bin laden is probably just rubbing his hands in glee at this sign of american weakness. Some say i shouldn't fret about things like this..."

Posted by: Mr DeBakey on October 4, 2010 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Kudlow: OMG the president is a Negro!!

Posted by: rabbit on October 4, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

Ah yes, a lecture on "toughness" and "forcefulness" from that steely-eyed, cigar chomping, battle hardened paragon of American masculinity and machismo, Larry Kudlow. Because as we all know, leaders of other countries are never so gauche as to actually hug one another, especially in public!

Larry Kudlow: the loudmouth drunk at the end of the bar that even the other barflies think is a loser.

Posted by: electrolite on October 4, 2010 at 1:50 PM | PERMALINK

[[Kudlow's column asks, "Am I the only one who saw weakness" in the presidential hug?" Yep, Larry, you are.]]

Kudlow's column implies, "Am I the only one who doesn't understand that by raising this question I'm showing how much of a closet case I am?" Yep, Larry, you are.

Posted by: Lex on October 4, 2010 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I grew up in a conservative Republican household, and it took me years to recover from that upbringing. I did, though, and have been a proud liberal for about 25 years.

So I used to believe that I could predict pretty well what wacko statements and beliefs conservatives would trot out next. I've discovered how wrong I was many times over the years.

Including Larry Kudlow's latest eruction. I hope someone sends him all the comments and that he reads at least a few.

This reminds me of the following: at Clinton's inaugural ball in 1992, he grabbed a saxophone and jammed with the band hired for the occasion. Morton Kondracke (remember him?) wrote an editorial the following day in which he opined that playing the saxophone at his own inaugural was "unpresidential". I remember ranting, raving, and shaking my fist upon reading this. After that, I quit reading Kondracke's columns.

IMHO, part of Kudlow's and Kondracke's reactions shows a serious flaw in conservative thinking, which is that image is all-important, and much more important than substance. Or perhaps I should say that they confuse the two. Bush insisted that everyone wear suits and jackets while working and that they be on time. Oooohh, how presidential! Look how seriously he takes his job! Obama dares to remove his jacket and roll up his shirtsleeves. Oh noes, he's not respecting the office! What a president actually accomplishes (or not) appears to be largely irrelevant. Except IOKIYAR. Sigh.

Posted by: Wolfdaughter on October 4, 2010 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

As a cokehead who had to quit his highly paid Bear Stearns job to go into rehab, Larry knows all about weakness.


Posted by: Hanan Kolko on October 4, 2010 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

Now, now, now. Larry is just jealous is all. He saw Obama hug Rahm Emanuel, and thought, damnit, why isn't that ME getting a hug from the POTUS? In a fit of fretful pique, he sat down and wrote his column, pouting to himself the whole time, desperately trying to hold back the tears...

Posted by: josef on October 4, 2010 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

At the risk of giving Kudlow too much credit, this may not be "Obama-derangement syndrome" as much as "whatever complaints were made about Bush, we're going to make them about Democratic leaders too". If the republicans get people thinking "all politicians are equally awful", they win.

Posted by: N.Wells on October 4, 2010 at 4:06 PM | PERMALINK

Don't forget, George W. Bush almost choked to death on a pretzel. How "presidential" was that?

Posted by: Patrick Star on October 5, 2010 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK

Kudlow is a misogynistic douchebag.

Posted by: getaclue on October 5, 2010 at 3:21 AM | PERMALINK



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