Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3499: President Obama Nominates Merrick Garland to Supreme Court - Body Language (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

Today President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the United States Supreme Court left by the recent death of Antonin Scalia. Mr. Garland is currently an American federal judge - the chief judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He has served on that court since 1997.

During Barack Obama's announcement in the Rose Garden, the President spent considerable time making an argument against the Senate Republican leadership's promise to not consider or vote on any nominee.

Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) first used the term "Biden Rules" - citing a very similar stance that the Democratic Leadership, specifically then Senator Biden took while chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in 1992. Today in his response as the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) used Joe Biden's name eleven times in his immediate six minute rebuttal - doubling down on his earlier stance.

Joe Biden feels the pressure of his actions 24 years ago. During this part of the President's speech Biden committed a blundering body language faux pas by putting both hands in his pockets while standing next to Barack Obama (beginning at 19:44). This signals Biden's profound emotional discomfort - as he knows that the Senate will use his position from all those years ago to refute Merrick Garland's nomination. Biden should have kept his hands clasped in the Fig Leaf configuration out of deference for the the President and the occasion.

Although many men do pose with their hands in their pockets - this is posing - and in such settings it's an example of false aloofness. In the real world when a man puts his hands in his pockets, it's a strong tell of low emotional comfort. Think of it as a turtle pulling its limbs inside its shell. Biden doesn't want to hear - because it so painfully reminds him that he will be the stumbling block.

See also:

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3498: Donald Trump Mocks Chris Christie when criticizing John Kasich

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3496: Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush Hugging at Nancy Reagan's Funeral

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3492: Peyton Manning Retirement Press Conference

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3470: Taylor Swift's Speech at 2016 Grammys

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 2379: Bill Clinton's Speech at the George W. Bush Presidential Library Opening

Negotiation Body Language Secret No. 913: Low Confidence, Low Trust and Demure

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3476: Is Ted Cruz worried about a Donald Trump Lawsuit?

Nonverbal Communication Analysis No. 3467: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia Dies