Bush’s Troubling Non-Verbal Communication

by RAYMOND J. LAWRENCE

A very significant part of human communication is non-verbal. Anyone who attends only to words, and ignores the non-verbals is apt to be blind-sided.

The non-verbal aspects of President George W. Bush’s final State of the Union address were remarkable. He offered numerous winks and nods, with knowing smiles, to the audience at various times and in various directions, presumably but not necessarily directed to particular individuals in the audience. It was not possible from television viewing to tell who may have been the intended individual recipients, or even whether the winks and nods were directed toward anyone in particular.

It probably matters little whether the President’s gestures were aimed at individuals or simply to everyone in general. The substance of his non-verbal gestures was in either case deeply troubling. Here was a president discussing lives sacrificed in war, the continuing sacrifice he was asking for years to come, the economic downturn and the critical need for action, and other matters that are deeply troubling to citizens of this country. But the President through all this was occasionally winking, nodding and smiling as if he were an adolescent schoolboy who just played a prank on the teacher.

Perhaps the President’s self definition as prankster was in fact the substantive, though subliminal, message in the State of the Union address. He has indeed played a six-year prank on the nation, taking the country into a war with no end by passing off phony data as fact, and he likely believes he will never be called before the bar of justice to account for his prank.

Or perhaps the prank that inspired him to feel so full of himself was that his highly touted tax reductions had been a windfall to the wealthy like himself and a meager sop to the average wage earner.

On the other hand, perhaps his prank was forcing Nancy Pelosi (front and center on television) and her fellow Democrats to stand and applaud for claims that surely they surely knew were false, for fear of appearing unpatriotic

Or perhaps it was all of these little pranks and more that inspired George W Bush to grin, wink and nod during the most solemn political liturgy of the year. Maybe it was all of the above and more, possibly including pranks we are yet to hear about.

RAYMOND J. LAWRENCE is an Episcopal cleric for 46 years, recently retired Director of Pastoral Care, New York Presbyterian Hospital, and author of numerous opinion pieces in newspapers in the U.S., and author of the recently published, Sexual Liberation: The Scandal of Christendom (Praeger).






 


 

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece
Jeffrey R. Wilson
“It Started Like a Guilty Thing”: the Beginning of Hamlet and the Beginning of Modern Politics