Behind the Scenes, Obama's Bipartisan Kiss-and-Hug-a-thon
The scene at President Obama's address to Congress Tuesday night was one of kisses, handshakes, hugs and standing bipartisan ovations.
Obama shook hands with scores of members of Congress, and kissed and hugged and backslapped others.
He kissed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, hugged Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), laughed with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), kissed Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and had words with Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who made inflammatory comments early this week questioning Obama's citizenship.
Obama had no words, hugs or kisses, however, for embattled Sen. Roland Burris (D-Ill.), who tried in vain to get the president's attention after the speech. Burris stood alone, with no other members of the Illinois delegation anywhere near him, and Obama wasn't about to touch him with a 10-foot pole.
The kiss Obama shared with his one-time presidential primary rival was a poignant tribute to the healing nature of time - and to winning.
Last year at this time, at the height of his bitter primary battle against Clinton, Obama was accused of snubbing the then New York senator on the floor of the House during President Bush's last State of the Union address.
This year, the snub was buried, once and for all.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who became embroiled in last year's alleged snub, was so relieved to see Obama and Clinton kissing this year that she Twittered her feelings on the matter.
"The warm greeting between Pres Obama & Sec Clinton makes me proud of our democracy. What a difference a year makes," McCaskill wrote to her many Twitter followers.
Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) got the handshake he came for, for the 21st consecutive year.
As he has since President H.W. Bush's first State of the Union address, Engel staked out an aisle seat - at 8:30 a.m. - and sat there all day, save for a few bathroom and snack breaks. (More on Engel's presidential handshake fascination here.)
All we can tell you about the reaction to Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, besides hearing a collective "bless his heart" for having to follow Obama, is that several Hill aides thought he sounded just like Kenneth the Page on Tina Fey's "30 Rock."
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