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Regrettable grip-and-grins are 'just life' for D.C. pols


Dec. 16, 1996: President Bill Clinton greets Monica Lewinsky at a White House Christmas party. The photograph later became part of the evidence that chronicled the pair's relationship. (AP Photo/OIC)

Ah, hindsight! It can turn a benign photo op into poser's remorse. Donald Rumsfeld sharing a friendly handshake with Saddam Hussein in 1983 or President Obama's now-infamous state dinner grip-and-grin with Michaele Salahi. And Gen. David Petraeus with the other party crasher, Carlos Allen.

Politicians pose for thousands of photos each year, and regrettable brag-wall shots are inevitable. "That's just life in Washington, D.C.," says Sheila Tate, vice chairman of public affairs group Powell Tate. "Every president has pictures that come back to bite him."

Peruse a photo gallery of regrettable grip-and-grins here.


President Richard Nixon poses with Elvis Presley in the Oval Office on Dec. 21, 1970. (Nixon Presidential Materials, National Archives and Records Administration)

Richard Nixon posed somewhat awkwardly with Elvis Presley in the Oval Office in 1970 (Presley wanted a Federal Agent at Large badge for his collection). Bill Clinton was photographed several times with Monica Lewinsky before their relationship came to light (ditto for Gary Condit with ill-fated intern Chandra Levy). And in the mid-2000s, then-President George W. Bush was snapped hugging conservative blogger Jeff Gannon, known for throwing softball questions in the White House briefing room. That was before the leaks that naked photos of Gannon had appeared on gay escort sites.


First lady Rosalynn Carter poses with John Wayne Gacy in Chicago in May 1978. (White House photo)

More lamentable: Rosalynn Carter's May 1978 snapshot with John Wayne Gacy, taken at a parade that Gacy directed in Chicago. The first lady signed it: "To John Gacy. Best Wishes. Rosalynn Carter." Police found the photo -- and 33 bodies -- at Gacy's house months later.

Tate told us one of her proudest moments came at a Disneyland campaign rally in 1988, when she prevented Mickey Mouse from getting in any picture with Vice President George H.W. Bush. "I told Mrs. Bush that, no matter what, she was to throw her body between them," Tate said. "It just wasn't the picture you wanted."

By The Reliable Source  |  January 6, 2010; 1:03 AM ET
Categories:  White House crashers  
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