Lazier than Viper
- Nov 27, 2003
- Quebec, Canada
- 2007 BMW Z4 3.0 SI
Read these lips: Bush gets quite continental
Thu Nov 18, 6:24 AM ET Entertainment - USATODAY.com
By Maria Puente, USA TODAY
Is there too much kissing going on at the White House?
President Bush (news - web sites) has bussed two women in public in the past two days. First, Condoleezza Rice (news - web sites), whom he kissed on the cheek twice when he nominated her for secretary of State on Tuesday. He went even further with Margaret Spellings, whom he smacked on the lips when he nominated her as secretary of Education on Wednesday.
Eyebrows, as they say, shot up and waggled. It was such a ... European gesture for the aw-shucks-I'm-jes'-a-Texan president. Besides, in these fearful times - you know, terrorism, sexual harassment lawsuits - isn't this sort of thing a no-no in a business setting? (Related story: Readers react to Bush's affection toward appointees)
"I see nothing wrong with giving someone a peck on the cheek if he has a close relationship with her, but in business, in general, kissing on the lips would not be appropriate," says Jacqueline Whitmore, head of the Protocol School of Palm Beach, who instructs executives on the do's and don'ts of business etiquette. Her rule: When in doubt, don't.
In fact, Bush does have long and close relationships with both women: Rice, who has been his foreign policy adviser since he ran for president, has become practically a member of the first family. And he described Spellings, who worked for him in Austin, as an "incredible, special" person. Moreover, it could be argued that it was Spellings who initiated the kiss, after giving him a pat on the back. Plus, all this kissing and hugging is supposed to be a "Southern" thing; Bush, who considers himself a Texas Southerner, hugs people a lot, say White House reporters.
Risky business, says Amy Oppenheimer, a California business consultant on workplace harassment issues. Powerful men kissing their subordinates in public can be misconstrued by the kissee or people watching the kiss.
And there's the whole male-female thing, too: Bush didn't kiss his close pal Alberto Gonzales when he nominated him for attorney general last week.
"Kissing is social behavior, not professional behavior, and people have different boundaries about it," says Oppenheimer. "The only person who would know if (a woman is) uncomfortable with it is her - and why would she say anything if she weren't?" The White House had no comment.
Also on Wednesday, Bush pardoned the White House Thanksgiving turkey. But he didn't kiss it.