Lazy Saturday Reads: Shaking Hands With tRump


U.S. President John F. Kennedy shakes hands with Soviet leader Nikita Krushchev at the U.S. embassy in Vienna, Austria.

Good Morning!!

How can it only have been three weeks since the uncouth baby-man took over the U.S. government? I honestly don’t know how much more I can take. Reading the news has become a terrible experience that often leads to anxiety attacks. Just for today, I’m going to let the real news go and focus on tRump’s bizarre power handshakes. Yesterday’s tRump torture of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was a classic. The expression on Abe’s face when tRump finally lets go is hilarious.



And then there was the way he jerked SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch’s hand during the announcement ceremony.


He did the same thing to Vice President Mike Pence on election night.



It seems tRump needs to assert dominance in just about every interaction. People are beginning to take notice. The Washington Post’s Peter W. Stevenson writes: Donald Trump and the art of the super-awkward handshake.

We know President Trump is concerned with appearances – especially when he’s on television, or in front of news photographers or large crowds.

We also know that President Trump is concerned with hands – how large they are, how strong they are – just look at them!

Trump is also a well-known germaphobe. He initially shunned shaking hands with supporters on the campaign trail. As president, protocol compels him to shake a lot of hands, though.

And recently, he’s taken part in a few handshakes that we’ll just call “intense” for now – most recently, a bizarre moment with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday.

Whether it’s just habit, or a way of asserting his power, Trump has a habit of pulling forcefully on the hand he’s shaking.

What’s going on here? Quartz asked a body language expert about it: The power play behind Trump’s penchant for uncomfortably long handshakes. Here’s his analysis of the tRump-abe handshake:

“When you cover somebody’s hand, you’re portraying yourself as being closer than you really are. It’s for perception management,” says Joe Navarro, a body language expert based in Florida, and author of the book What Everybody is Saying. “The only time you should be tapping somebody’s hands is if you’re their grandmother, but certainly not between two grown adults.”

That would typically make people feel uncomfortable and invaded. “Because the back of your hand is your intimate zone,” says Navarro, comparing the experience of the hand-pat to the feeling you get when somebody stands too close to you. “You are entitled to touch the palm of their hand when you shake hands, but not the intimate zone.”

But Trump didn’t just pat the back of Abe’s hand, he yanked and pulled the prime minister toward himself in a signature move he’s been doing since his stint hosting The Apprentice. More recently, he’s used the move on Mitt Romney, Neil Gorsuch, Nancy Polosi, Rex Tillerson, and Mike Pence. Often, it turns a regular old handshake into a comical tug-of-war, with Trump twisting people’s arms into strange angles. It’s like playing “jiujitsu with your hand,” says Navarro. “All that it does is that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth and causes psychological discomfort.”

“Frankly, it’s rude,” he adds.


See more videos at the link.

It seems that tRump just doesn’t know how to behave in polite society. At The Slot, Gabrielle Bluestone noted that:

The handshake was also notable because Trump, who won the election based on his self-proclaimed instincts, misunderstood what the PM was trying to tell him.

“What are they saying?” Trump asked Abe about 20 seconds into the handshake, referring to photographers who were speaking Japanese.

“Please look at me,” the Prime Minister translated. Trump appeared to take the translation literally, and began to stare at the Prime Minister, refusing to break eye contact with him even when he used his other hand to point at the cameras, where Trump was supposed to be looking.

What a nimrod! I hate to think of the agonies Abe must be enduring at Mar-A-Lago this weekend. Trump supposedly cheats at golf too.

At The Telegraph, Guy Kelly and Charlotte Krol suggests that tRump may be overcompensating for something: Donald Trump’s alpha male body language tics – from the hand tap to the power shake.

It’s not for us to say whether Donald Trump is compensating for something. Yes, certain behaviour may give that impression: the erection of several self-branded towers, one of which is literally gold, for instance. Or the fact he felt the need to declare “there’s no problem” with the size of his manhood at a GOP debate last March. Or almost everything else he’s ever done.

That’s mere speculation. What’s clearer – and less of a legal migraine to write here – is to say that Trump is an ‘alpha male’. We needn’t look further than his body language to confirm it, either.

From bone-crushing handshakes to an almost allergic reaction to his wife, Trump is at pains to use power plays to underline his masculinity with every public appearance.

They note that tRump doesn’t seem to enjoy holding hands with his wife Melania.

On Saturday, Trump was seen at Palm Beach international airport with his wife, Melania, as they set off for a weekend away. When the First Lady had the temerity to reach for her husband’s hand on the tarmac, Trump squeezed it for one moment, gave it a bizarre three taps with his other hand, and then dropped it like a stone.

Because, as we all know, holding hands with your wife – or waiting for your wife before walking off – is the sort of beta male nonsense only weak men like Barack Obama would lower themselves to. Hand holding, it seems, only suits the president when he initiates it.

There’s more analysis and more videos at the link. Here’s the one of tRump’s rude treatment of Melania at the Inauguration.



Spin Magazine says that tRump just “doesn’t know how to shake a person’s hand.”

Even the quotidian act of shaking hands has proven to be a Herculean task for Donald Trump, the leader of the free world. The Oval Office hosted a meeting between the POTUS and Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe and, as per usual, things turned tragicomic. The two hands grasped each other for a bleak 20 seconds, where Trump had the same look of confusion of a dog popping a squat and Abe—bless his diplomatic heart—could only muster up the enthusiasm of an embarrassed father….

Get this: Trump is 70 years old. Even Abe can’t seem to hide his shock that this is a grown man.

And it’s only been three weeks!

I’m going to end with more famous historical handshakes between foreign leaders to go with the one of President John F. Kennedy and Nikita Krushchev at the top of the post.

Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong (1893 - 1976) shakes hands with American president Richard Nixon (1914 - 1994) in Peking (Beijing) during his visit to China. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

Chinese communist leader Chairman Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) shakes hands with American president Richard Nixon (1914 – 1994) in Peking (Beijing) during his visit to China. (Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)


German dictator Adolf Hitler shakes hands with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Hotel Dressen in Godesberg, 22nd September 1938. The two met to discuss the German occupation of Sudetenland. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

German dictator Adolf Hitler shakes hands with British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain at Hotel Dressen in Godesberg, 22nd September 1938. The two met to discuss the German occupation of Sudetenland. (Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


U.S. President Bill Clinton stands behind PLO leader Yassar Arafat and Yitzahk Rabin as the two shake hands on Oct. 25, 1995.

U.S. President Bill Clinton stands behind PLO leader Yassar Arafat and Yitzahk Rabin as the two shake hands on Oct. 25, 1995.


That’s all I have for you today–sorry this post isn’t more substantive. I’ll leave it to you to post links to the important news in the comment thread. Have a relaxing weekend.

54 Comments on “Lazy Saturday Reads: Shaking Hands With tRump”

  1. janicen says:

    It is dizzying to keep up with the rudeness, incompetence, and the treasonous things coming out about this administration. Honestly, I haven’t come here to comment much because I don’t have the time. I’m riveted to new stories that are coming out faster than I can read them. I need to get some things done today but I can’t tear myself away from the Louise Mensch twitter feed. Then I want to keep up with the marches and the town halls and the palace intrigue and it’s literally impossible to follow all of the corruption.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I can’t stop obsessively following the news even though it’s crazymaking. Writing about it is harder–I think writing tends to bring up feelings.

  2. Riverbird says:

    Thank you for this post, BB. I hope you’re coping with the snowy weather.

    I haven’t posted much lately because I’m packing to move in two weeks.

    • NW Luna says:

      Hope your move goes well! Moving seems to always be a huge amount of work and logistics problems.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Good luck Riverbird! I’m still recovering from my move.

    • Riverbird says:

      Thanks for the good wishes. I’m moving back to Austin from another central Texas town and will be there in time to take part in the Citywide Indivisible Austin Gathering on March 5.

  3. janicen says:

    I’m glad they are turning Trump’s handshakes into a joke. It’s a major power move among dudes and I’m sure DJT thinks he’s “winning” by doing it. Now, the more he does it, the sillier he looks. I love Abe’s facial expression at the end of it.

  4. NW Luna says:

    BB, in these days, having the energy to put up a post on King Joffrey Toddler-in-Chief’s latest acts of trauma to American democracy is quite an effort!

    • Enheduanna says:

      All foreign leaders and governments at this point have him pegged as amateurish. Didn’t China just flat outright call him that?

      Not a good look Donald…just sayin.

      • ANonOMouse says:

        China President Xi Jinping, refused to speak with tRump until trump acknowledged the “One China” policy. tRump finally yielded on that point. Someone must have told him “don’t start a pissing match with China, you’ll lose”.

  5. roofingbird says:

    I’m glad folks are finally talking about handshakes. I would point out it’s all male to male here. when his did that to Nancy Pelosi everyone misunderstood her pained expression for sniveling acceptance. I mean the man had pulled her arm to her shoulder height and twisted her wrist. Politicians need their hands; they have to shake hands all day.
    If you suspect someone might pull you like that, have your stance ready and step forward into them. Squeeze back, even if it feels silly and long, parrot their back of the arm taps. If they put their hand on your shoulder, reach up and do the same, or say place don’t do that. I spent too many years in construction to put up with that crap.

    • roofingbird says:

      I would point out, that while we are saying how silly this is, there is a very large contingent of men for whom this kind of behavior would be reassuring. So unless this discussion is widely disseminated, I doubt it will change attitudes.

  6. Enheduanna says:

    BB – hope you’re warm and cozy. I didn’t realize tRump had so many messed up handshakes already! I actually hope we get to see him try that on Putin some day.

  7. NW Luna says:

    The DNC Future Forum in Baltimore today will have candidates the DNC Chair and Vice-Chair speaking. They have various work-up-the-crowd speakers now.

    Candidates speak sometime later; can’t find agenda.

    Streaming at:

  8. dakinikat says:

    The entire world has to be freaked out by this buffoon and his merry gang of thugs. CIA won’t give flynn’s aid security clearance!

    good lord! What do they know?

    • Joanelle says:

      How much of this will the Repubs take? I realize they don’t want to give up the presidency but he is making the party look like a bunch of fools as the rest of the world wonders what’s wrong with his party and the American people.

    • Catscatscats says:

      Forget the aide, why did the CIA give clearance to Flynn in the first place with his previous history? Why does he still have clearance? Are they trying to pin something bigger on him?

  9. dakinikat says:

  10. dakinikat says:

    • NW Luna says:

      Drumph hates animals.

      • Enheduanna says:

        I can’t think of a single thing about tRump I like – even his “love” for his children – which Hillary generously mentioned in a debate – is creepy to me. His public comments about Ivanka’s sex appeal and calling Barron a “retard”. His children and wife are only trophies to him – his property as a reflection of him.

        • Catscatscats says:

          OMG! I hadn’t heard he disparaged Barron like that. I read some suspect Barron is autistic and because 45 doesn’t accept imperfection, he keeps him out of the public eye, but to call his son a “retard” gives me yet another reason to despise the man baby.

  11. MsMass says:

    Quite the coincidence with the picture of Khrushchev and Kennedy on top- I just finished reading a story about the Cuban Missile Crisis, Told partially from the POV of a Florida man who witnessed the bomb in Japan firsthand, so he knew what bombs in Florida would do.
    I was thinking at least Kennedy was a smarter leader, while Krushchev reminds me of Trump.
    Luckily the blockade and deals to remove missiles worked- or we wouldn’t be here to talk about our scummy leader.
    It also reminded me how much Russia has been our enemy for nearly my entire life. I don’t trust them, especially in the form of Putin. Now he has his puppet in the WH and how many secrets of ours is he now privy to. I hope somebody in the government or military is protecting sensitive information.

    • quixote says:

      Khrushchev was nothing like Trump. He was smart, wily, moved the Soviet Union away from Stalinism (he was a liberal in their context!), and had the intelligence to pull back when he pushed the US too far with the Cuban missile crisis. It was a calculated move, not some chimpanzee chest-thumping thing. When the calculation was wrong, he abandoned it. (Which is not to take away from Kennedy’s intelligence in calling his bluff.)

      Plus, he came from a working class / peasant background and proud of it, so he could come across as weird or brash. But he came by it honestly. It wasn’t a vulgarity he put on to display dominance.

      So, no, they’re totally different.

      All that said, take it from someone who grew up in a Russian family, you’re right about Putin. He might as well be one of those alien intelligent fungi out of science fiction, with not one shred of human feeling. Having his stooge in the White House is a total five-alarm hair-on-fire national emergency. Way too many Americans — present company excepted! — haven’t figured that out yet.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Kennedy actually negotiated with Krushchev to end the crisis, although it was very hush hush at the time. Kennedy had been in the war; he wasn’t going to go off half cocked like tRump.

  12. dakinikat says:

    Here’s a loop and better angle on that jerking handshake with the Judge. The judge is grimacing.

  13. dakinikat says:

  14. NW Luna says:

  15. TheRealKim says:

    It’s all creepy. It’s disgusting and I am still in complete disbelief

  16. NW Luna says:

    Husbands Are Deadlier Than Terrorists
    [Nicholas Kristof]

    Last year Americans were less likely to be killed by Muslim terrorists than for being Muslim, according to Charles Kurzman of the University of North Carolina. The former is a risk of approximately one in 17 million; the latter, one in one million.

    The bottom line is that most years in the U.S., ladders kill far more Americans than Muslim terrorists do. Same with bathtubs. Ditto for stairs. And lightning.

    Above all, fear spouses: Husbands are incomparably more deadly in America than jihadist terrorists.

    And husbands are so deadly in part because in America they have ready access to firearms, even when they have a history of violence. In other countries, brutish husbands put wives in hospitals; in America, they put them in graves.

    • Enheduanna says:

      I saw somewhere you are more likely to die of your clothes catching on fire than in a terrorist attack.

      Stoking the paranoia of people living in rural communities with Islamist terrorism is unconscionable.

  17. Carrie says:

    Is this how Trump will greet the Queen?

  18. Carrie says:

    I have a new neighbor who did this to me and it was creepy as f**k. He never waves….just stares unless he’s with his wife. She is lovely and has no idea she married a psycho.

  19. NW Luna says:

    They picked an exemplar photo for this article.

    [Russian ammendment] that decriminalises some domestic violence

    Critics say amendment sends wrong message in country where it is estimated domestic abuse kills a woman every 40 minutes.

    A poster for a Moscow store offers discounts to Americans on the day of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

  20. Boo Radly says:

    Somewhat off topic – CNN showed a photo op of the Japanese priminister, his wife, the tRumps after dinner this weekend – short blurb – Melania’s facial expressions changed six times in rapid session – scary, creepy! Brought to mind the movie Zoolander. Scary and creepy.

  21. NW Luna says:

    In case anyone had doubts:

    Living in fear of deportation is terrible for your health — New studies show the harmful medical effects of disrespect, discrimination and detention.

    …Over the past few years, surveys and qualitative research have begun to reveal the extent of the physical and emotional effects. And a study published last month in the International Journal of Epidemiology by University of Michigan researchers provides hard biological evidence that these changes can be transmitted to the next generation.

    The study found that Latino babies born in the 37 weeks following a federal immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, in 2008 had a 24 percent greater risk of low birth weight than the babies who were born to Latina women in the same period a year earlier. (Previous years, too, showed normal rather than depressed birth rates.) Low birth weight is associated with long-term risks to physical health and mental health, cognition and academic performance. What is most troubling, as well as surprising, about the study is the extent of the effect. Low birth weight and its risks were, perhaps predictably, high among undocumented immigrants, but they were just as high among Latinas across the state who were legally in the United States. In spite of their apparent safety, their bodies were reacting as if they, too, could soon be deported. Years before the latest presidential threats and actions upped the immigration ante, fear was overriding immigrants’ faith in the dependability of their legal status. ….

    The damage to the next generation may be compounded by other, less obvious assaults on their biology and psychology. Research by Rachel Yehuda and her colleagues at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York has demonstrated that the consequences of Holocaust survivors’ extreme trauma can be passed down to their children and grandchildren, making them exquisitely sensitive to the ordinary stresses of relatively safe lives. Yehuda and other researchers believe that these are “epigenetic” effects, modifications in the ways genes express themselves, which transmit vulnerabilities to stress from one generation to the next. Though the mechanisms are not completely understood, animal studies as well as those on human adults who were abused as children demonstrate similar changes.