The softer side of George W. Bush

Recently, both the New York Times and Washington Post have run articles about “cuddle parties,” in which urban dwellers seeking a little human warmth get together for a platonic session of hugging and cuddling.

You might think our president would be just about the last guy in the world to whom something like that would be appealing. After all, George W. Bush loves to get dressed up in macho costumes and talk tough. Yet Bush also has a softer side, a side that wants nothing more than to hug, and be seen hugging.

So for those who think the President is just about smokin’ ’em out and gettin’ ’em runnin’, we offer a window into his warmth and tenderness:

Generalized hugging

“They’ve seen me make decisions, they’ve seen me under trying times, they’ve seen me weep, they’ve seen me laugh, they’ve seen me hug.” – August 26, 2004

“Yesterday, in Cleveland, Ohio, at the International Children’s Games, I was able to hug and say hello to a young girls’ soccer team from Afghanistan.” – July 31, 2004.

“I want to thank the thousands of you who are here who understand we can save somebody’s life by showing them love. We can help somebody who hurts by hugging a neighbor in need.” – April 3, 2003.

“If you’re dissatisfied with the quality of education, do something about it. If you’re satisfied, go hug a teacher and thank him or her for doing such an important job.” – October 14, 2002

“When you tell your child you love them, and give them a hug, that’s part of making sure the future of the country is as strong as it can be.” – April 15, 2002

“What government can’t do is change people’s hearts, or put a sense of purpose in people’s life. That’s done when loving, decent, kind Americans hug a neighbor in need.” – September 5, 2002

“I saw a sign coming in that said, Mr. President, thanks for the $600. I felt like stopping the limo and giving her a big hug.” – September 3, 2001

“Give the President a hug and a kiss.” February 15, 2001, to Nancy Reagan on the occasion of Ronald Reagan’s birthday.

Sports-related hugging

“So when you make right choices, set out the right examples, hug somebody who hurts, you’re really helping our country. And if you’re from Canada or other countries, you’re helping your country, too.” – September 29, 2003, to Stanley Cup champion New Jersey Devils

“I don’t know if any of you have ever had a chance to go to see the Special Olympics, but if you do, and somebody offers you a chance to be a hugger — which means you’re standing on the other side of the finish line to hug somebody who comes running across — do it.” – June 7, 2001, to Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens

War- and terrorism-related hugging

“One of my hardest parts of my job is to console the family members who have lost their life. It is a — it is — it’s a chance to hug and weep and to console and to remind the loved ones that the sacrifice of their loved one was done in the name of security for America and freedom for the world.” – April 13, 2004

“See, I understand the consequences of war. I understand the risks of war. I understand firsthand, particularly when I go and hug the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters of those who died. ” – November 17, 2003

“See, I was there right after September the 11th. I saw the smoke. I saw the devastation. I heard the grief. I hugged the firefighters whose — the families of the firefighters who rushed in to save. ” – November 14, 2003

“And a mother — a fine looking couple walked up, a mom and dad, said, you’ve got to know, our daughter died in Bali. And tears in his eyes. And I gave him a big hug.” – October 18, 2003.

“Laura and I had the honor of going to the site there in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, the other day to hug and cry and visit with and smile with if they wanted to smile, with the family members of those brave souls who were on that airplane.” – September 17, 2002

“I was able to pin the Purple Heart on a number of people upstairs. I was able to hug their parents and thank them.” – September 11, 2003

“I don’t know if you remember the speech I gave in front of the Congress right after the attacks of September the 11th, but I held up the badge of one of the brave who were killed. It was the badge of Arlene’s son. I’m honored you’re here, Arlene, I appreciate you coming — I can’t wait to give you a hug.” – August 26, 2003

“I hug the mothers and the widows of those who may have lost their life in the name of peace and freedom.” – February 10, 2003

“I’m the person in this country that hugs the mothers and the widows if their son or husband dies.” – February 10, 2003

“I understand what it means to put somebody into combat. I know what it means to hug mothers and wives.” – January 29, 2003

“There’s only one person who hugs the mothers and the widows, the wives and the kids on the death of their loved ones…Having committed the troops, I’ve got an additional responsibility to hug.” – December 2002

“As I have met the heroes, hugged the families, and looked into the tired faces of rescuers, I have stood in awe of the American people.” – January 29, 2002

“A soldier in the war on terror is a mom or a dad who surrounds — who hugs their children on a daily basis and says to the child, I love you more than anything in life.” – January 15, 2002

“Americans are asking: What is expected of us? I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children.” – September 20, 2001

“I wish I was visiting under better circumstances. But it will be a chance for all three of us to thank and hug and cry with the citizens of your good area.” – September 17, 2001, to Rudolph Guiliani and George Pataki

“Flight 93 — I had the honor of going to the site and hugging the families of the 40 who were on that airplane.” – September 16, 2002

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