Politics, Intimacy and Political Spouses

Did you see that dap? If so, what was your gut reaction to Barak and Michelle and this bit of intimacy? Your responses are probably as varied as those of all the pundits that talked and wrote about it for days. Reactions ranged from looking at it as a “black” thing to a generational thing, to a sign of unity and partnership. It’s safe to say that these were elements- but my reaction was, “Wow, what a genuinely intimate moment.” Like many viewers, I watch politicians and their spouses with a skeptical eye. They embrace and kiss for the cameras and stand together- through victory and infidelity and everything in-between. After all, the show must go on. But this was different…

If you watched that moment of victory closely, you saw their intense eye contact, their bodies in sync and a kind of fluidity in how their fists came together. It was refreshingly honest- and it left the viewer with the sense that this couple is a real team, not just for political expediency- but in all the ways two people can be.

Compare the moment to those we have watched of Bill and Hillary, John and Cindy, Eliot and Silda, Gary and Lee (Hart), John and Jackie (Kennedy), or even Ronald and Nancy, Al and Tipper and Jimmy and Rosalind (Carter)- who are all known for their devotion to one another. Yet, even they never shared a public moment together that felt like the dap moment.

What made this different? It is a new expression between political spouses, and there was a very unrehearsed quality about it. However, what struck me was the connection that could be felt across a room- or a country. For that brief moment, it felt like they were the only two people present. Alone together and focused on a delightful feeling or thought that they and they alone shared. This is what true intimacy looks and feels like.

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