Whatever the president does, it will be scrutinized, analyzed, and hypothesized about to death. Such is life in a post-Watergate world – the presidency will never be looked at like it was before that ever again. That’s a fact. So, with all eyes on him, you’d think the president would be a fairly anxious to avoid unnecessarily embarrassing himself. Well, no, they embarrass themselves in countless ways from the benign to the scandalous. Since I’m still not very confident about talking serious issues even though nobody reads this thing anyway, I’ll stick to fluff for now – like dancing. There are many of us, myself among them, who do their utmost to avoid dancing in public, so some credit must be given for trying. Some obviously did better than others.
It’s a little early to judge our current president, but I found this picture of Barack and Michelle Obama at their inauguration and thought it would get the whole thing started.
So here we are – spanning nearly thirty years – the presidential dance-off.
Fourth Place – George H. W. Bush President from 1989-1993.
The first Bush couple to inhabit the White House were rather understated when it came to hitting the dance floor.
Aside from this picture from one of the inaugural balls, I couldn’t find any more pictures – let alone video – of President Bush the elder dancing with anyone. I suppose it is best to know the limits of your talents when the press is around and sit back like the rest of us and enjoy the antics of those who have yet to figure that out.
Third Place – Bill Clinton President from 1993-2001.
President Clinton took office and the age of 46 making him the second youngest president ever elected and with that distinction came a certain amount of expectation that he and his wife would look good. Well, we all know they never rivaled the Kennedys, but their dancing wasn’t too bad even though it often looked contrived. Then again, if I were being investigated for everything under the sun, I doubt I’d be feeling very relaxed and spontaneous, either.
As the new president-elect in 1992.
At an inaugural ball in 1993
This photo was taken on St. Thomas in 1996 and its release sparked controversy, just like everything else having to do with the then-First Couple. Was the photo staged as an attempt to depict the Clintons as happily married or was this the work of journalists who had sunk to the level of skulking paparazzi? Who knows, but, no matter whether they knew about it or not, I’m sure that the current Secretary of State wishes it had never been taken.
At an inaugural ball in 1997
We all know what happened next – scandal, impeachment, perpetual divorce rumors, a first lady became a senator, the senator ran for president and became Secretary of State – and, for reasons known really only to themselves, they’re still dancing with each other in the same old, un-spontaneous way nearly two decades after the world began watching.
Second PlaceRonald Reagan, President from 1981-1989.
I found plenty of pictures of President Reagan dancing with his wife, Nancy. Reagan, having had a previous career as an actor, tended to do well with this element of presidential theater. It all seemed so unrehearsed – even Harry Benson’s famous photograph from 1985 which was, I believe, shot in a studio had a very natural, unscripted, and genuine feel to it.
President Reagan also did the diplomatic dance in 1984 with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
And now it is my pleasure to present out presidential dancing king, the one and only …
DUBYA! George W. Bush – President from 2001-2009
Now I know how shocking it is that Dubya has come in at the top of any political list of mine, but let me explain. While he certain isn’t the best dancer, he is very comfortable being the bad dancer that he is and never passed up an opportunity to show off what one kind reporter described as “his unique moves.” Also, thanks to sites like YouTube, all of his dancing antics are preserved on the internet for our children and our children’s children to reference for history projects. For supplying the world with laugh-inducing clips for the ages, George W. Bush wins the award for “Best” Presidential Dancer.
I would love to say my next post will be more meaningful and thought-provoking … but I’m sure it won’t be.