The rules of hand-wiping

24 Mar

People are predictably flipping out over this video in which Bush shakes the hand of a Haitian citizen and then immediately wipes his hand on the shirt sleeve of Clinton. Many are claiming this may be another example of Bush’s supposedly racist tendencies. That seems a bit much for me, especially since, who knows, maybe the Haitian guy’s hands were just overly sweaty or soiled in some untold manner. Hands get dirty. That’s life.

The purported racism is not the issue here. The issue is this: how close are Bush and Clinton? If they’re close pals, all bets are off and the hand wipe is totally acceptable. Friends have been doing impolite jackassery such as this for years, and none of us — even ex-president, filthy rich, globetrotting types — is above it. Even me. Truth be told, I am farting on my friend’s face while writing this. Stones and glass houses; I’ll reserve judgment.

But if these two aren’t friends, if they’re business associates and no more, this is a jerk move of the highest order. You don’t wipe your hands on the sleeves of non-friends. Everyone knows that.

So which one is it? I’m looking at you for answers, media. Your recon assignment begins now.

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