Arms and The Man

One of the things that people who dislike George Bush often mention as something that particularly bothers them is what they call his “swagger”. I too have found myself vaguely irritated by his carriage, without realizing what it was that bothered me. I’ve now put my finger on it.

I’ve noticed in the past that both hypertrophic bodybuilders and the grossly obese share a postural trait – the arms, when hanging at one’s sides, not being able to lie closely against the body, are pushed out and forward, which rotates the hands so that the palms, instead of being turned toward each other, face straight backward. This is also how gorillas and troglodytes are always drawn, knuckles dragging on the ground. If you look at most men of normal girth you will see the hands hanging with the palms facing the body, more or less, but when George Bush walks his palms face generally aft. It has a marked, if subliminal, visual effect.

Not having heard anybody point this out before, I thought I’d better mention it here.

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  1. Nick Pollack says

    I think I might be able to provide some background as to why bodybuilders tend to have their arms outstretched and palms facing backward. When I originally talked with Coach Paller about weight training he mentioned the difference between developing a long biceps muscle and a short one. Bodybuilders tend to focus too much on their biceps, not allowing the muscle to develop gradually, which forms a short bicep muscle. This short biceps muscle makes the arm’s weight more concentrated on the elbow, and actually turns the arm inward. This is why you normally see “beasts” with their palms facing inward. In conclusion, I would still agree that George W. can relate to a “beast”.

    Posted January 2, 2006 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Thanks for commenting, Nick. I had not heard about that short-biceps effect. I don’t think GWB is much of a bodybuilder, but I do think he likes to look tough, and that’s probably why he walks that way.

    Posted January 2, 2006 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

2 Trackbacks

  1. By waka waka waka » Blog Archive » Burning Bush on April 19, 2006 at 12:30 pm

    […] Having said that, though, I make no brief for Bush, who is, to put it almost comically mildly, is no Churchill. The only thing I have ever agreed with him about was foreign policy, and the conduct of the war in Iraq was a disaster of the first magnitude. His smirking manner, his swagger, his staggering ineloquence, his shallow and binary mind, his ostentatious piety, his arrogation of power (and contempt for basic American freedoms and for the checks and balances of the Constitution), and his unwillingness to admit the slightest error are ample reasons to wish him gone. He gave me yet another occasion to cringe in embarrassment for our nation when he said yesterday, regarding Rumsfeld, “I am the decider.” […]

  2. By waka waka waka » Blog Archive » Liberal Arts on September 2, 2006 at 12:10 pm

    […] Now I’m no fan of George Bush myself, for a great many reasons. I cringe every time he opens his mouth to speak, and I agree he and his posse have made a real “dog’s breakfast” of the rebuilding of Iraq. I don’t even like the way he walks. And I’ve certainly spent much more of my life on the Left side of the aisle than the Right. But as I’ve gotten older, and have seen more and more evidence that human beings are made of irremediably crooked timber, I have come round to a pointed and conservative skepticism of the Utopian fantasies of the Left, and have grown more than a little weary of hearing aging and comfortably-well-off people, their mouths full of Brie and Stoned Wheat Thins, opining that the US would be better off under Castro than Bush – the sort of opinion, of course, which, if expressed in reverse, would get them hauled off to jail in Havana. […]