The inauguration of Barack Obama offered telling insights in interpersonal dynamics of the most powerful. As the Obamas bid adieu to George and Laura Bush before the Bush’s boarded the fortified helicopter that would whisk them away to Andrews Air Force Base, the couples warmly embraced. Barack and George hugged. Michelle and George shared a double-cheek kiss. Laura hugged both of the Obamas.
“I was struck by what has become a quite cordial and has obviously warm relationship between the Obamas and the Bushes,” said Fox News’ Brit Hume.
Even the Bidens’ goodbye to wheel-chair bound Dick Cheney and his wife Lynne was outwardly chummy.
Cheney hurt his back moving boxes and was under doctor’s orders to stay off of his feet.
“Going out in a wheel chair is not something he’ll be happy about because he prides himself on his robustness,” noted Tom Brokaw during NBC’s coverage.
The chemistry between Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton was rather chilly. Carter appeared to snub Clinton when Clinton extended a hand to shake. But the relationship between Clinton and Al Gore is clearly in deepfreeze and not about to thaw any time soon. The former president and his veep did not even speak to each other.
George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush looked rather like they’d seen it all before (because of course they have). And 41 was shuffling disconcertingly with the aid of a cane.
“I don’t know what the problem is, but we’ve seen him doing some TV interviews including one with his son (on Fox),” observed CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, adding that 41 looked “lively” only days ago.
The elder Bush also had a fur-lined hat awkwardly jammed into the pocket of his overcoat, which he put on and took off when the cameras and important people meandered by. Standing with the Clintons, he quickly removed the hat when Obama came over to shake hands with him and Bill Clinton.
But Connecticut senator and Democratic party pariah Joe Lieberman gets the booby prize for the most inappropriate headgear. Lieberman was wearing a U Conn baseball hat - as if it was March Madness instead of a presidential inauguration.
The weather did not present sartorial challenges for Michelle Obama, who must have been freezing in a yellow Isabel Toledo shift and matching jacket. Hillary Clinton was dressed for the weather in a royal blue ¾ coat and pants, of course.
At the 3-course lunch (served on replica Lincoln china ) in Statuary Hall of the Capitol Rotunda, Hillary Clinton made a beeline for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the lone senator who his standing in the way of Clinton’s unanimous confirmation at Secretary of State.
Tax delinquent and Treasury secretary-hopeful Timothy Geithner looked rather uncomfortable, sitting stiffly at table 7 with his wife and Michelle Obama’s mother, Marian Robinson.
Jimmy Carter sat talking intensively with 91-year-old Robert Byrd (also in a wheel chair), the eldest member of Senate.
When Obama entered the hall, he offered a lot of hugs - and a pat on the back to Geithner. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) was looking at his iPhone when Obama came over to greet him. They hugged and Hatch immediately went back to his phone.