wpostServer: http://css.washingtonpost.com/wpost

The Post Most: Opinions

direct signup

Today’s Opinions poll

Should the United States fund the service program AmeriCorps? President Obama would increase its budget. Rep. Paul Ryan would eliminate federal funding for the program.

Review your answers and share

Join a Discussion

Weekly schedule, past shows

About Petri |  Get Updates: On Twitter ComPost on Twitter |  On Facebook Petri on Facebook |  RSS RSS
Posted at 05:18 PM ET, 09/10/2012

The Obama lift, and lifts in history

You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais - AP)
It might not be exactly the kind of post-convention lift that President Obama had in mind (although he got one of those, too) but it was definitely a lift, from pizza shop owner Scott Duzer.

The 6-foot-3-inch man enveloped the president in a bear hug and lifted him almost a foot, according to Politico. There’s even video.

CNBC’s Jane Wells called this “one of those rare, unscripted, Clint Eastwood-style off-the-cuff moments which we could use more of in this election.”

Rare these days, maybe. But there’s surely precedent for campaign-trail embraces. Consider these hugs in history, which I assume must have occurred at some point:

●Election of 1800, when a Yeoman Farmer was so excited to see Thomas Jefferson that he clasped his hand warmly in a manner considered forward for the time.

●Election of 1828, when, for the first time, a presidential candidate (Andrew Jackson, in this case) sought out the hugs from the populace as opposed to bowing pointedly at them.

●Election of 1844, when James K. Polk hugged Henry Clay, thinking Clay was going to let go first, and so they just stood there for a while until it became obvious that some sort of misunderstanding had taken place.

●1852, when Franklin Pierce was enthusiastically embraced by Nathaniel Hawthorne, his only real supporter.

●Election of 1904, when Teddy Roosevelt was enveloped in bear hug by an actual bear.

●Election of 1908, when someone tried to hug William Howard Taft but was stymied by his circumference and settled for a firm handshake. Later attempts to lift Taft also failed, even when 11 men were enlisted in the effort.

●Election of 1860, when Stephen A. Douglas tried and failed repeatedly to lift Abraham Lincoln off the ground in a series of multi-hour Lincoln-Douglas-style hugs.

●Election of 1856, when no one tried to hug James Buchanan, but he jumped up in the air a couple of times when startled by noises.

●1968, when Richard Nixon accidentally hugged J. Edgar Hoover, a suspicious and brief hug that resembled two porcupines deciding not to mate.

●1980, when Jimmy Carter hugged himself silently for a long time, murmuring soothing nothings.

By  |  05:18 PM ET, 09/10/2012

Read what others are saying

    © 2011 The Washington Post Company