More flip-flopping? Another move to the center? There was much clucking in the media today over the significance of Barack Obama’s reported refusal to fist-bump a little boy yesterday in Ohio yesterday. The brouhaha (which was quickly picked up in a mass e-mail by the Republican National Committee) started with this excerpt from a pool report of Obama’s visit to the Eastside Community Ministry in Zanesville:
He then came back to the room where the children were drawing
pictures. Stooping over a table, he autographed a number of drawings.
The children were delighted; one girl held her picture to her cheek
after Obama signed it.
As he left, a boy tried to give him a fist bump. Obama said no.
“If I start that …” his voice trailed off.
The candidate apparently was mystified when he heard about the report today, which sent ABC News’ Sunlen Miller back to the videotape. What she found:
Child: Can you sign my hand?
Obama: If I start that…plus Mom might not be happy when she comes home. She’ll be like, ‘what is the dirt on your hand?’…see ya.
Child: Can you sign it in pen so it will come off?
The child rose his hand in a fist to get Obama’s attention as he asked for a signature – perhaps prompting the fist bump portrayal.
Obama instead signed the autographs for the children in crayon on drawings they were working on during class.
(The child’s request, by the way, brings up what is a recurring issue for candidates. I remember Al Gore having to tell people many times: “I don’t sign skin.”)