George W's Helping Hand - Not

By Tamer El-Ghobashy
|  Thursday, Apr 1, 2010  |  Updated 5:00 PM CDT
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AFP/Getty Images

Former US President George W. Bush waves to Haitians during his tour to the tent city in Port-au-Prince on March 22, 2010. Former US presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush visited Haiti Monday to reassure the shattered nation the world has not forgotten it 10 weeks after the deadliest earthquake of modern times. The pair head the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, a relief organization set up after the January 12 quake that leveled parts of the capital Port-au-Prince, killing at least 220,000 people and leaving 1.3 million homeless.

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The George W. Bush gag reel keeps on rolling.

Even after leaving office and quietly retiring to Texas, the former President's knack for the public gaffes is making headlines once more -- this time for apparently wiping his hand on fellow ex-commander in chief Bill Clinton's shirt during a trip to Haiti.

The moment, captured on camera, would be hilarious if not for the circumstances: Bush seems to wipe his paw on Clinton after shaking the hand of a Haitian made homeless by the devastating earthquake that rocked the island nation.

How did the commenting class react?

  • At Thinkprogress.org, Amanda Terkel notes that the move is consistent with Bush's "well-known aversion to germs — and a tendency to use other people’s clothing to clean himself off. He infamously used a woman’s shirt to wipe off his glasses and reportedly had an aide give him 'a big dollop of hand sanitizer' after shaking hands with Barack Obama."
  • NPR's Frank James doesn't blame W. "If that's what he did, it's also understandable. The presidents visited a camp where people displaced by the earthquake are living in tents and staying clean isn't easy," he writes. "And as an inveterate glad hander himself, it was the kind of move that Clinton would've no doubt understood."
  • Alex Pareene, writing on Gawker, takes a swipe at Bush's apparent wipe. "Sure, he may be uncomfortable with the impoverished, but we should just be proud of former President Bush for making is through this whole visit to Haiti without one of his trademark hilarious verbal goof-ups, like 'we don't torture.'"
  • It's hard to tell if The Guardian's Richard Adams is being sarcastic or sincere when he writes that a "likely version of events would show the personality differences between the two presidents." "Bush is seen tapping Clinton on the shoulder twice and then plucking at his sleeve," he observes. "Clinton is notoriously unpunctual and an enthusiastic glad-hander, whereas Bush is known for keeping to a tight schedule. So it's just as likely that Bush was encouraging Clinton to hurry up."
  • The Zeitgeisty Report agrees that the gesture shows a difference -- between "the GOP and the Dems." "Look at ole’ Clinton go, gettin’ in there, reaching out…man he wouldn’t care if that crowd was covered in fungus, he’d still shake their hands and then eat a whole bucket of KFC afterwards, without even sanitizing first!"

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