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July 18, 2006

Bush gropes Chancellor Merkel

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Taylor Marsh has the whole series, as captured by Russian television. You have to see the entire sequence to believe it. You can also watch the video of Bush groping Merkel at Crooks and Liars.

Every woman will recognize the guy who sidles up and starts "casually" giving you a backrub without even looking at you, because he wants to preserve deniability in case you freak out. Like any practiced groper, Bush stares right past Merkel as she recoils from his touch.

The play fails, but he just moves on, eyes averted, like it's her problem. ("Oh my God, there's a hysterical woman displaying inappropriate behavior! I'll just pretend I don't notice her egregious gaffe.")

Yes, our president, the drive-by harasser.

Idealistic Pragmatist discusses the cultural context of Bush's groping.

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Comments

Seeing her wince made me wince.

In German culture, this approaches being unforgiveable. Nowhere is it appropriate, but Germans have one of the most sharply defined sense of privacy and space of any culture, even more so than frequently contact-phobic North Americans. This was a bully showing who was boss.

Really, what type of married man puts his hands in a familiar way on the shoulders of a woman other than his wife?

I never liked Bush but until today I did not actually hate him. I feel like writing a letter of apology on behalf of 295 million Americans, most of whom know better.

Oh come on, don't be such a feminist. Surely your boss rubs your shoulders on a daily basis before you massage his feet.:)

What? You mean you don't? You probably don't get him coffee either.

Women, demanding they be treated with respect, how dare they.

God, Bush is such a pig. That's not some guy he's buddies with, that's a woman he isn't married to. He has no business touching her in such a familiar way.

after watching the film, only one thought crosses the mind: 'what a dick'.

Christ, that is creepy.

More and more, I'm convinced our president is a very powerful child.

So, ostensibly, the President of the United States walked up to -- wait for it -- the Prime Minister of Germany? And then started randomly massaging her shoulders, like a dater on Blind Date?

I'm sorry, but, and I mean this completely earnestly and unsarcastically, I'm afraid I simply cannot conceive of the President of the United States doing this. I've already called Photoshop on a few such moments here, and I guess I have to call Flash on this one. You're simply fucking with us.

OK, the last two sentences were no longer earnest nor unsarcastic. But the first three were.

I remember reading a New York Times article, which contrary to stereotypical views of the Times, was a column lauding Bush's "towel-snapping humour" when meeting with Tony Blair. It was intended to highlight his frat-boy provenance, and his winning personality. It was an embarrassing ass-kissing cheerlead, coming from the Times, but it just seemed embarrassing to Bush himself. Once again, in yet another aspect, our TV president on the West Wing is more presidential than our actual president. Surprise neck massage? Smack her big ass for good measure, while you're at it!

I seriously find this harder to believe than anything this man has yet done.

Between his pork obsession, his side remarks about Syria and Iran to Tony Blair while chewing on his dinner roll, his fumbling "Just wait" comeback for Putin's "We certainly would not want…the same kind of democracy as they have in Iraq" remark, and now THIS, could the U.S. have possibly come across looking any worse? Thanks a lot, El Presidente; way to shame us all. Keep on rockin' in the free world, motherfucker.

How high school. Isn't this only done by the guys who can't get dates?

Beyond sad.

The Bild.de headline "Bush: Liebes-Attacke auf Merkel!" - literally: love-attack on Merkel.

Ever since his governor days he’s had a reputation for putting his hands on anyone he feels like. I don’t think this has as much to do with his attitude towards women so much as his attitude with everyone. He has a colossal sense of entitlement and is a natural bully. Creeps like him are always putting their goddamned mitts on you because they figure they can treat you like a dog. Check out the bizarre glasses cleaning incident:
http://politicalhumor.about.com/cs/bushvideos/v/bushkleenex.htm

At least he’s not blowing chow around like Pop did on the Japanese prime minister.

Is sexual harrassment an impeachable offense?

But, but, Condi loves those massages, so he just naturally assumed...

Seriously- I am furious that my country is represented to the world by this worthless clown.

Actually, I'm studying in Germany at the moment and I'd like to make a small addition.

It is true that German culture has "touching" rules, I guess would be an inelegant way of putting it, but there is also a difference between personal and professional behaviors. I don't know that personal behaviors are any more restricted or particularly different than in most Western nations, but German business/professional ethics are in many ways extremely strict. For example, I have professors here who won't call me by my first name, even after I've told them I prefer being less formal and that regardless I'll still be calling them "Professor" or "Doctor" or whatever, because it would be considered "unseemly."

Point being, there is no way anyone in Germany is going to see this as a joke. People here are going to see it as a complete lack of respect, not just for Merkel but also the conference and the work at hand. If they didn't think Bush didn't give a shit about Germany or international relations before, I'm pretty sure they're thinking that now.

Yeah, but it doesn't matter how disgusting Bush is, he is the one with the big guns and appears stupid/uncaring/ignorant/million other undesirable attributes to use them.

I agree with the person who said this reflects his sense of entitlement, but it also shows he is totally clueless as to what is appropriate behavior for the President. Remember how the right wing kept screaming about Clinton and Monica, "It's the people's house, how dare he defile the White House!?" Well, when the President is abroad, he represents all of us on the international stage and should behave like an adult, and that includes decent table manners (can you believe we're saying this?), respect for other people, and not acting like a doofus. He's defiling our country when he does things like this. Mitterand apparently said about Reagan, "Je n'ai jamais recontre un tel idiot" (Never met such a dope)--can you imagine what he would have said about the current President? And just watch, this shameful little episode will live on the Internet but not get covered by the MSM which is still protecting him.

I really never thought that anything Bush could do by now could lower my opinion of him. Merkel is one of Bush's few remaining supporters.

I have a German in-law, and what she tells me agrees with what Bruce says about German ideas of personal space. Germans are have very strict ideas about inappropriate familiarities of all kinds. What Bush did would be inappropriate in most contexts, but even more so in Germany.

I can't imagine anyone doing that to Margaret Thatcher, BTW. Either Bush just despises Europeans, or Merkel doesn't have the dragon lady vibe.

His "pig" jokes, his suggestion that Putin model Russia on Iraq, and now this, suggest to me that Bush has finally lost it. He's always been a low-functioning fraud who gets away with it because of his position, but all three of these recent episodes represent a decline from his own low standard.

Conservatives are starting to break against Bush, for example George Will, and these episodes should speed that process. I can hardly forgive the conservatives for enabling him as long as they did, but we should take what we can get.

Personal spaces vary from one culture to another,but in ANY culture an invasion of another's space is a power play, and very clear statement of disrespect.

--Personal spaces vary from one culture to another,but in ANY culture an invasion of another's space is a power play, and very clear statement of disrespect.--

Its a sign of disrespect to touch, put your arm around, touch the shoulders of a friend, a co-worker, an ally, a pal?

Not true in America, not true in Latin America, not true in Italy, not true in other places.

Bush's sense of ahem, decorum, is not defended here, but the above comment is entirely untrue.

Perhaps I should've been clearer. "Invasion" was supposed to imply "uninvited contact", as between people w/o any prior level of intimacy...

Phantom, I don't know about other cultures, but I can tell you about Latin America.
In this context, it would be extremely inappropriate to engage in any sort of personal horseplay of any kind. Latin Americans, if they know each other well, may exchange a hug when they meet and when they say goodbye, even if a business setting, BUT it would have to be a personal acquaintanship of years. i.e. "I grew up with this guy, even if he's president" and you would do it only after the person at the higher social/business status signals it would be ok.
Also, NEVER EVER EVER does a man hug a woman he doesn't know very well in a personal setting. Nevermind coming up behind her and starting to massage the shoulder. It would send a message that they are much more personally involved than just business.

In other words, he's more than a clown, an idiot, and a boorish lout... he's got some real issues (as if we didn't already know that).

--In other words, he's more than a clown, an idiot, and a boorish lout... he's got some real issues (as if we didn't already know that).--

Major overreaction. I understand that youze hate the guy and will believe the worst. I agree that it is a breach of decorum. I wouldn't have done it. When I am President, I will not do it.

We must be a real loosy-goosy bunch where I work, because I can think of a number of times over the years, when we've done what Bush did here, and no offense at all was taken. And a couple of these "incidents" were females touching males in a manner not that different from what that devil Bush did in Russia.

Yeah, we knew one another longer than Bush has known Merkel, but those predisposed to read negative things into our actions could have had a field day with us too.

Bush was clumsy. But to say more than that is...silly.

An ugh from this corner as well. And I've got a translation--and some cultural background--up at my blog.

Well, he's committed far more grievous offenses, and I do have plenty of reasons for dislike. (Not as many as some other citizens of the world, but reason enough.) There's also lots of reasons to believe he's at least a narcissist and a sociopath, amongst other things. But putting all that aside, Lindsey is exactly right: giving a neck-rub to another (female) world leader, with whom he has no aparent intimacy, in public, while looking away as if his hands were acting on their own, is both quite disturbing behavior, and VERY reminscent of your local groper.

I have never been "massaged" by a male co-worker no matter how long I've known him. Maybe that's because we represented a company in a sexual harassment suit in which the main allegation was that the "boss" was too apt to give uninvited massages to female employees. Mind you, no touching private parts, just a little relaxation in a stressful setting.

I can't think of any professional or official setting (easily recognized by the fact that all of the major players are dressed in suits or uniforms) in which Bush's conduct would be considered appropriate. And he knows it: he went ballistic when Irish TV got a photo of him leaning out the window of his hotel or wherever he was staying in Ireland.

Forced informality is just another form of bullying. Sorry.

What we are watching folks, is a guy having a MAJOR psychological meltdown.

It is like he insisted in ditching his handlers for this trip (I mean, every, single, appearance has been a major embarressment) "no, mommy, I want to do it all by myself this time."

Cute in a 5 year old. Not in this instance.

And in any culture -- the more formal the occaision, the less appropriate any kind of touching -- other than a very proper handshake.

And you just don't walk up behind a woman you barely know and give her a shoulder rub. If a guy had done that to me at a party I would be livid. And I love being touched, by my friends and family!

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