Donald Trump’s body language at Bush funeral reveals tension between presidents

Trump sat stony-faced alongside his predecessors during a frosty and awkward meeting at a service to honour the late 41st president, George H.W. Bush

he meeting of President Donald Trump and his predecessors at the funeral of George H.W. Bush was a mixture of awkward handshakes, folded arms and forward stares.

While the service to commemorate the life of Bush Sr was characterised by emotion and good feeling, warmth between the five living presidents was decidedly absent.

Trump shook hands awkwardly with Barack and Michelle Obama as he took his place in the front row of the service at the Washington National Cathedral.

He did not reach out to former President Bill Clinton or former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who were seated next to the Obamas.

Hillary Clinton, who lost to Trump in the 2016 US election, nodded but did not smile as the president and wife, Melania, joined the group that included former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn.

Body language expert Judi James likened Trump’s arrival at the cathedral to “a herd of animals sensing a lion”.
The five living presidents and their spouses sat stony faced (Image: REUTERS)
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She told The Sun Online: “Until then the gathering of previous presidents had involved some relatively relaxed displays of sociable body language but suddenly… their poses and non-verbal signals morphed into something far more wary and stony-faced.”

Trump proceeded to sit through the service, often with his arms folded over his chest and his eyes fixed in an intense stare ahead.

Judi said: “The pressure appeared to tell in Trump’s body language.

“Sitting with his legs splayed he placed his hands in a forward steeple position between his knees and proceeded to tap his fingertips together which is a gesture normally associated with impatience.”
Trump sat through the service with his arms folded and his eyes fixed in an intense stare ahead (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
Judi James said Trump’s body language showed he was feeling the pressure (Image: REUTERS)

The fact that Trump attended the service, however, and was welcomed by the Bush family, with whom he also has sparred, provided a glimpse of bipartisanship and political civility that many feel are lacking since he took office in January 2017.

The president did not attend a service that was similar in scale at the cathedral for Republican Senator John McCain, who died earlier this year, and had to be talked into keeping the American flag at half-staff over the White House.

Trump and McCain had feuded repeatedly and at his service, the senator’s daughter Meghan McCain rebuked Trump in an emotional speech.

For Bush, Trump declared a day of mourning. He visited the 41st president’s casket as it lay in state in the U.S. Capitol and later called on former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, while they were in Washington.
Trump visited the 41st president’s casket as it lay in state in the U.S. Capitol (Image: AFP/Getty Images)
He later called on former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, while they were in Washington (Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)

Still, the bad feeling between Trump and his predecessors appeared hard to set aside.

Trump has sharply criticised Obama and worked to roll back signature achievements of the Democrat’s White House tenure on healthcare, climate change and foreign policy.

Michelle Obama, who recently published a memoir, wrote about not being able to forgive Trump for his leading role in the “birther” movement that questioned whether her husband was born in the United States. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.
The Obamas, Clintons and Carters were much more relaxed before the Trumps arrived (Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)
The mood changed dramatically once the President and First Lady had taken their seats (Image: REUTERS)

Trump’s behaviour contrasted with that of his presidential counterparts.

The Clintons chatted amiably with the Obamas before the current president arrived. The two former first ladies exchanged a long hug on seeing each other and clasped hands at the end of the service when they parted.
Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama greeted each other with a warm hug (Image: SIPA USA/PA Images)

George W. Bush shook hands with the full front row of presidents and their spouses, and in a replay of a scene that went viral during McCain’s funeral, and handed sweets to Michelle Obama.
George W. Bush shook hands with the full front row of presidents and their spouses (Image: REUTERS)

Shedding tears, George W Bush delivered a moving and emotional eulogy for his father.

Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who sang for Mr Bush on his deathbed, performed Last Full Measure of Devotion.

Outside, 50,000 people had lined the streets as the casket was driven to the cathedral, the toll of bells and a 21-gun salute all that broke the silence.

As he gave his address, the 43rd President George W Bush drew tears and laughter from the 3,000 mourners inside the cathedral.
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He opened by saying: “I once heard it said of man that the idea is to die young as late as possible.”

He recalled how his father lived life to the full, racing boats in the Atlantic at 85 and skydiving five years later.

Bush Jr, 72, added he had taught him how to lead: “He showed me what it means to be a president who serves with integrity, leads with courage and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country.

“When the history books are written, they will say that George H W Bush was a great President of the United States.”

He ended on an emotional note, his own wife Laura, 72, wiping away tears as he said: “Your decency, sincerity and kind soul will stay with us forever. So through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man.”
Laura Bush was seen wiping away tears (Image: ABACA/PA Images)

Bishop Michael Curry, who spoke at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, led the congregation in prayer.

Prince Charles and Sir John Major were at the National Cathedral in Washington to pay their respects. Mr Bush, president from 1981 to 1989, was hailed by Jon Meacham as “America’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th Century founding father”.

Historian Mr Meacham made George W Bush laugh, recalling how Bush Snr, in a frenzy of campaigning, had once grasped the hand of a mannequin by mistake. “He said, ‘Never know. Gotta ask’,” said Mr Meacham.

Ex-Senator Alan Simpson, said his friend Mr Bush’s epitaph needed one letter. “The letter ‘L’ for loyalty. It coursed through his blood. Loyalty to his country, loyalty to his family, loyalty to his friends,” he said.

Bush will be interred alongside wife Barbara, who died aged 92 in April, in Texas today.

Trump proceeded to sit through the service, often with his arms folded over his chest and his eyes fixed in an intense stare ahead.

Judi said: “The pressure appeared to tell in Trump’s body language.

“Sitting with his legs splayed he placed his hands in a forward steeple position between his knees and proceeded to tap his fingertips together which is a gesture normally associated with impatience

The fact that Trump attended the service, however, and was welcomed by the Bush family, with whom he also has sparred, provided a glimpse of bipartisanship and political civility that many feel are lacking since he took office in January 2017.

The president did not attend a service that was similar in scale at the cathedral for Republican Senator John McCain, who died earlier this year, and had to be talked into keeping the American flag at half-staff over the White House.

Trump and McCain had feuded repeatedly and at his service, the senator’s daughter Meghan McCain rebuked Trump in an emotional speech.

For Bush, Trump declared a day of mourning. He visited the 41st president’s casket as it lay in state in the U.S. Capitol and later called on former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, while they were in Washington.

Still, the bad feeling between Trump and his predecessors appeared hard to set aside.

Trump has sharply criticised Obama and worked to roll back signature achievements of the Democrat’s White House tenure on healthcare, climate change and foreign policy.

Michelle Obama, who recently published a memoir, wrote about not being able to forgive Trump for his leading role in the “birther” movement that questioned whether her husband was born in the United States. Barack Obama was born in Hawaii.

Trump’s behaviour contrasted with that of his presidential counterparts.

The Clintons chatted amiably with the Obamas before the current president arrived. The two former first ladies exchanged a long hug on seeing each other and clasped hands at the end of the service when they pa

George W. Bush shook hands with the full front row of presidents and their spouses, and in a replay of a scene that went viral during McCain’s funeral, and handed sweets to Michelle Obama.

Shedding tears, George W Bush delivered a moving and emotional eulogy for his father.

Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, who sang for Mr Bush on his deathbed, performed Last Full Measure of Devotion.

Outside, 50,000 people had lined the streets as the casket was driven to the cathedral, the toll of bells and a 21-gun salute all that broke the silence.

As he gave his address, the 43rd President George W Bush drew tears and laughter from the 3,000 mourners inside the cathedral

He opened by saying: “I once heard it said of man that the idea is to die young as late as possible.”

He recalled how his father lived life to the full, racing boats in the Atlantic at 85 and skydiving five years later.

Bush Jr, 72, added he had taught him how to lead: “He showed me what it means to be a president who serves with integrity, leads with courage and acts with love in his heart for the citizens of our country.

“When the history books are written, they will say that George H W Bush was a great President of the United States.”

He ended on an emotional note, his own wife Laura, 72, wiping away tears as he said: “Your decency, sincerity and kind soul will stay with us forever. So through our tears, let us know the blessings of knowing and loving you, a great and noble man.”

Bishop Michael Curry, who spoke at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, led the congregation in prayer.

Prince Charles and Sir John Major were at the National Cathedral in Washington to pay their respects. Mr Bush, president from 1981 to 1989, was hailed by Jon Meacham as “America’s last great soldier-statesman, a 20th Century founding father”.

Historian Mr Meacham made George W Bush laugh, recalling how Bush Snr, in a frenzy of campaigning, had once grasped the hand of a mannequin by mistake. “He said, ‘Never know. Gotta ask’,” said Mr Meacham.

Ex-Senator Alan Simpson, said his friend Mr Bush’s epitaph needed one letter. “The letter ‘L’ for loyalty. It coursed through his blood. Loyalty to his country, loyalty to his family, loyalty to his friends,” he said.

Bush will be interred alongside wife Barbara, who died aged 92 in April, in Texas today.

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