The Thinking 

When Did Political Figures Start Kissing Each Other?

February 7, 2013


Interior Secretary Nominee Sally Jewell kissing Outgoing Secretary Ken Salazar


Sally Jewell hugging Obama


— Comments —

Nina S. writes:

My theory, based upon no scientific data whatsoever, is that political hugging is similar to ants “smelling” with their antennae. Since the human nose is woefully inadequate compared to ants’ sensitive antennae, politicians must get within kissing/hugging range to verify whether another is a valid member of the group. If you can’t look at the second picture without imagining Sally Jewell sniffing, I apologize.

 [Laura writes: Ha!]

More seriously, I wonder if the smooching is related to the current trend of public expressions of love? For example, how often have you heard a stranger end their call with “love you, bye!” or something similar? I’ve noticed more people doing it, and find it disquieting. We certainly should let our family and close friends know that we love them. However, ending every phone call with “love you” in a perfunctory way cheapens it. You might as well say “Have a nice day,” since it’s said in the same tone.

I may be fussing/digressing over nothing.

Laura writes:

No, you are not fussing over nothing, and I think the two are related. This promiscuous affection says, “Nothing matters but how outwardly loving we are.” People can pursue ruthless values and totalitarian politics, but are saints if they say they love each other loudly.

Terry Morris writes:

There must be a correlation between the phenomenon and the advent of women in politics, right? Next you’ll be asking “when did combat soldiers start hugging each other?” :-)

Lydia Sherman writes:

You are right: in the past we were free from the social hindrance of casual hugging and kissing. Men and women kissed in public after the war, changing the Victorian custom of only kissing in private. I find myself dodging people who are all kissy-huggy; it delays the real communication, and waylays me when I am in stores or out doing business and errands in limited time. It lessens the meaning of a smile, a nod, and polite greetings.

Lydia adds:

Whatever happened to the dignified handshake?

Laura writes:

That’s too patriarchal.

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