Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Bush’s Troubling Non-Verbal Communication


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).





RAYMOND J. LAWRENCE is an Episcopal cleric, 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). He can be reached at:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017
Ron Jacobs
A Theory of Despair?
Gilbert Mercier
Globalist Clinton: Clear and Present Danger to World Peace
James A Haught
Many Struggles Won Religious Freedom
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Dear Fellow Gen Xers: Let’s Step Aside for the Millennials
Uri Avnery
The Peres Funeral Ruckus
Tom Clifford
Duterte’s Gambit: the Philippines’s Pivot to China
Reyes Mata III
Scaling Camelot’s Walls: an Essay Regarding Donald Trump
Raouf Halaby
Away from the Fray: From Election Frenzy to an Interlude in Paradise
James McEnteer
Art of the Feel
David Yearsley
Trump and Hitchcock in the Age of Conspiracies
Charles R. Larson
Review: Sjón’s “Moonstone: the Boy Who Never Was”