George W. Bush may not come off as touchy-feely, but as his California fire tour demonstrates, he’s one of the best presidential huggers of all time. In recent months, Bush has embraced literally hundreds in public, the Washington Post notes. Sure, those are mostly photo ops, but Bush’s hugs look strangely genuine, and may define our memory of him.
Hugs are a complicated social signal for men, the Post notes, often evoking macho unease, but the president’s status lets him get away with it. Besides, the unpopular Bush needs the image softening. “A lot of people mistrust his words,” said one nonverbal studies expert, “but it's hard to fake the meaning of a handshake or an embrace.”