As dignitaries from around the world took their seats at the National Cathedral for George H.W. Bush's funeral, there was a place of honour in the front pews for the five remaining living U.S. presidents — Donald Trump, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush — and their partners.
It was uncomfortable for basically everyone in the best ways imaginable.
Shall we examine the videotape?
The Trumps are the last to arrive. As the President hands his coat to a helpful soldier, Melania exchanges handshakes with the Obamas (a warm two-handed version with Barack) and Bill Clinton, then directs a friendly wave to Hilary. At 0:06 seconds Hilary acknowledges the wave with a curt nod I can only properly describe as "everything."
As Donald takes his seat he reaches across to shake hands with Barack whose political handshake game is, at this point in his life, flawless. At 00:12 seconds Donald shakes hands with Michelle and they make eye contact. Michelle, who (as she has recently reminded us) is not a politician, tries very hard to keep a neutral face but her eyebrows betray her as they practically fly off her face. She recovers with a palpable air of "I can't believe I had to do that" as she adjusts her jacket.
While this is happening, Bill Clinton is keeping an eye on the situation, clutching his program for dear life as Hillary stares ahead, fully not giving a single fuck. What follows is a solid minute of awkward perfection as Bill wonders if he should have gone in for the shake, Donald rocks back and forth, and Jimmy Carter hangs out the end just being 94-years-old and delightful.
It's worth comparing the Trump greetings to George W. Bush's enthusiastic arrival. He "fakes out" Barack, slips Michelle a piece of candy (seriously), greets the Clintons, gets in a meaningful moment with Jimmy, and even works in a bro-tastic point and nod to Joe Biden in the second row.
Like always, Twitter had thoughts.
Ok let’s talk about how George Bush was getting ready this morning and was like “I can’t forget a piece of candy for Michelle Obama, she really liked the one I gave her at the last funeral” then making sure he gave it to her during his many handshakes like #GeorgeHWBushFuneral pic.twitter.com/tePjLAN5FG— AK (@akyouknow) December 5, 2018