Barack Obama – continuing his campaign of politics as unusual – offered a hip alternative to scripted displays of affection by political couples by giving wife, Michelle, a hug, kiss – and quick fist bump.
It was short, but sweet.
“Fist bump of hope!” wrote one Internet poster about the couple’s hand-to-hand show of solidarity.
Obama told NBC‘s Brian Williams Wednesday night he is proud of that magical moment.
“It captures what I love about my wife, which is that there is a reverence about her and a sense that for all the hoopla that I’m her husband and sometimes we’ll do silly things.
“She’s proud of me and she gives me some credit once in a while, but I actually pull some things off.”
The affectionate 11-second exchange before Obama claimed victory as the Democratic presidential nominee Tuesday emphasized Obama’s youth and ability to transcend the stereotyped political gestures of campaigns past, experts said.
“I would imagine to a young voter, this was another sign that these people are one of us,” said psychologist Drew Westen, author of “The Political Brain: The Role Of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation.”
“People saw their willingness to display their affection in the way they really do – at home, or in private moments.”
It was a great alternative to Al and Tipper Gore‘s way-too-long nationally televised liplock or Bill and Hillary Clinton, in swimsuits, cavorting on a Virgin Islands beach.
The all-but-certain Democratic nominee for President, before addressing the crowd in Minnesota, shared a moment with his wife of 15 years.
As the couple met on the stage before a raucous crowd, Obama kissed her cheek as they hugged. The two exchanged a few quick words before Michelle raised her right fist, and Obama bumped it with his left.
Michelle Obama then flashed a quick thumbs up and headed offstage, with her husband patting her gently on the lower back as she exited.
“If it’s calculated, it’s a very good calculation,” said Dr. Judy Kuriansky, the well-known psychologist. “America wants to see what’s going on in the relationship.”
The fist bump, she said, “was very hip, very cool, an ‘I’m-with-it’ move. It’s almost cocky.”
When Gore planted a kiss on his wife in 2000 at the Democratic convention, many saw it as merely a opportunistic shot at shedding his wooden image.
And when the Clintons were “caught” dancing during a 1998 vacation in the Virgin Island, critics saw it as calculating – an attempt to deflect attention from the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit.
Westen said the moment shared by the Obamas seemed to rise above such criticism.
“The way you respond to it may depend on partisanship,” he said. “I think it was a remarkably genuine and seemingly unscripted moment between the two of them.
“As a married man, it made me smile.”
BY LARRY MCSHANE
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER