Had enough of G20-speakerphone-dinner-that-wasn’t-a-dinner-Dubya’s-an-idiot-no-Rudd’s-an-idiot gate yet? At Crikey we’re just getting warmed up.

The experts were out in force parsing the body language of Bush and Rudd last Friday. The Age had “speech and body language expert Michael Kelly” run the ruler over the Presidential greeting:

“Bush’s right arm is down, a barrier between himself and Mr Rudd. The President is playing hard to get. Mr Rudd’s arm is not visible. He might be wanting to put it around Bush, but Bush is not open to it,” Mr Kelly suggests.

Mr Kelly says the lack of eye contact is telling…”It’s a sly look, taking a peek at someone you don’t like,” he says… He contrasts this with President Bush’s meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy…”

Ouch.

Strangely forgotten in all this is that, in most parts of the world — in fact, in most parts of the United States — being disliked by President Bush is regarded most positively. Here’s something else for the Michael Kellys of the world to carefully analyse.

Whose hand is where and in whose? And what does the lack of eye contact tell us? You can FEEL the warmth in the room, can’t you? Whatever happened to the Fratboy Dubya who tweaked Angela Merkel’s bra strap and summoned the Prime Minister of Great Britain to discuss the deteriorating situation in the Middle East with “Yo Blair!”, because someone had to tell Syria to “stop doin’ this sh-t”?

And at least Rudd didn’t trip over in the White House garden, unlike his unfortunate predecessor, who required a helping hand from Bill Clinton in the act of strolling away from a press conference. Some people will do anything to get an embrace from a president.

On the actual phone call — which, pace our friends at The Oz, definitely didn’t happen during dinner, Crikey received a tip earlier this week that the “leaker” of the call was a senior PM&C official. It sounded implausible — PM&C only ever leaks on strict instructions from the Prime Minister, thank you — but we checked it out anyway. Terry Moran told us that no one from his department was present on the night in question.

Which pretty much rules out anyone other than the Prime Minister’s Office being the source of it. For those who still care.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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