This Blog is non-partisan. I critique and analyze the nonverbal communication of many politicians (and others), not limited to party or country.
Go figure! Politicians sometimes cannot see the big picture. Their actions are often laden with the self-destruction of school aged boys on a play ground. They're supposed to be statesman/stateswomen - master communicators, but this is rarely so. Enter Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. It is well known that she and President Obama have widely different political views. She's a republican, he's a democrat - no mystery here. But if your goal is to win another to your way of thinking, the classic finger-point, hand-chop in the President's face as he gets off Air Force One as a substitute for a warm greeting - is not the way to accomplish it. Jan Brewer is either very naive or political grand-standing here. Regardless of your political leanings, although such stunts may help one with their political base, this will rarely persuades swing voters - and NEVER the opposition - on the contrary, it makes them more resistant to change. It also makes you look unrefined.
The President, rather than pulling away, leans forward and embraces her left arm/elbow. This is the nonverbal equivalent of speaking in softer tones and at lower volumes when someone is raising their voice or even yelling at you. It works. The human instinct very much expects the equivalent of an arms race escalation of negative body language. It is very disarming when the opposite occurs. Obama, somewhat more skilled and experienced, uses his nonverbal acumen to dial-down Brewer's temper .... with an equal effect on his own. Biofeedback in two directions. Amazing stuff body language is. The use of calming nonverbals in oneself begets calming nonverbals and emotions in both the sender and the receiver. Had Brewer been a 300 pound, six-foot-four-inch male governor with a goatee instead, I'd like to think he'd have the same counter-move ..... but maybe not.