Gropergate (Video)

Something had to replace Plamegate right?

But seriously, watch the video. President Bush probably touched Chancellor Merkel’s shoulders for a second, more or less, and there is certainly not enough context in any video that I’ve seen to accurately measure her reaction. Yet liberals are acting like the President placed, um, something other than his hands on Merkel’s shoulders:

Digby: “Check out the look on his face. Does he look like he’s ‘just having fun’ or does he look like he’s putting the uppity b**** in her place?”

Taylor Marsh: “This is why Iraq and the Middle East are in flames, and we have no credibility around the world. We have a prepubescent president in charge. It is an outrage.”

Majikthise: “Every woman will recognize the guy who sidles up and starts ‘casually’ giving you a backrub without even looking at you, because he wants to preserve deniability in case you freak out. Like any practiced groper, Bush stares right past Merkel as she recoils from his touch. The play fails, but he just moves on, eyes averted, like it’s her problem.”

The Green Knight: “I’m going to go out on a limb and draw a conclusion here. I do not think that Bush is a dry drunk any more. I’m not sure he ever really was. I’ve had an alcoholic in my family, and believe me this is the behavior of somebody with a serious and ongoing drinking problem. And my guess is that Bush is a really belligerent drunk.”

Anyway, I think you get the point. Allah more than summarizes my feelings on this non-story while Jim Hoft points out the extreme irony.

UPDATE: Gropergate disappoints! Jon Stewart bungles a freebie:

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Greg Tinti
About Greg Tinti
Greg started the blog The Political Pit Bull in August 2005. He was OTB's Breaking News Editor from June through August 2006 before deciding to return to his own blog. His blogging career eventually ended altogether. He has a B.A. in Anthropology from The George Washington University,


  1. Would it have been okay if he had done it to Blair. My take on the short clip is she didn’t enjoy the touch. That doesn’t make it sexual harassment. If we see a change in rhetoric from the German chancellor, then it means something. If we don’t, then it just has the left focusing on the one republican we already know they hate and we know won’t run in 2008.

  2. Anderson says:

    I’ve been arguing that “grope” is the wrong word, but it was still inappropriate. If Bush can’t handle himself better than that, he needs to stay home. (Best guess I’ve seen: she looks so much like Harriet Miers, he got confused!)

    See here for the Pulp Fiction answer, which concurs with YetAnotherJohn’s analysis.

  3. McGehee says:

    I don’t see any DNA being deposited.

  4. floyd says:

    the left goes “nuts” over bad manners , then expects the rest of the world to worship at the alter of their every vile perversion.

  5. Alex Knapp says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m seeing the video out of context, but I’d say that Bush’s actions were definitely rude and inappropriate. Sexual harrassment? No. Groping? No. Behavior becoming the President of the United States? NO.

  6. terry says:
  7. terry says:
  8. Aubrey says:

    This is a really bad idea with any German, particularly one in a position of authority. Relations are very formal; Germans will insist on shaking hands when resuming a meeting after lunch, but for God’s sake don’t slap one on the back.

  9. topsecretk9 says:

    It wasn’t inappropriate, it was a gesture of endearment and it really isn’t about or for any of us, much like his private note to Condi inquiring about the bathroom

    People are loosing it…they like to oust Liberman, for now real poilcy issue than the war and THE HUG! (even though they are pretending it’s substance)

    He’s human, real and kind…see here, here, here, here, here, here…get the picture.

  10. As I said to a commenter on my own blog:

    To say that was sexual harrassment is to make a mockery of people whoâ??ve actually been sexually harrassed. The definition of sexual harrassment is like the definition of anti-Semitism and homophobia. All are so overused to describe the most innocuous situations that they no longer have the meaning that was intended.

    You canâ??t disagree with Israeli policies or youâ??re an anti-Semite.
    You canâ??t disagree with gay people or youâ??re homophobic.
    You canâ??t touch someone of the opposite sex in any way whatsoever or youâ??re sexually harrassing them.

    Please. What he did was probably immature at best. But it hardly rises to the level of sexual harrassment.

    In fact, I bet there are a lot of abused women whoâ??d smack you upside the head for comparing that to the harrassment theyâ??ve faced.

    This is such a manufactured story.

  11. Boinkie says:

    Touched her shoulders?
    Heck, the BBC had photos of them holding hands
    Photo HERE
    what I haven’t seen in the US coverage is what we see in these photos: Bush is not only friendly with many of the G8, but they are friends with him…and Putin defended him last week in a BBC interview…
    Finally, the “weak” statement that came out of the G 8 conference which the UK press seems to have hated, is probably due to Bush holding back the European and Russian wish to condemn or at least hold back Israel.

  12. Cernig says:

    Let’s try something.

    If you’re a guy, go ask your wife, girlfriend or daughter how they would have felt. And no cheating.

    My wife says she would have broken his arm (she’s a black belt), my daughter would have pressed charges.

    He’s CinC right? This is surely “conduct unbecoming”.

    Regards, Cernig

  13. floyd says:

    topsecretk9; thank you, for six thousand sane and encouraging words!

  14. Cernig says:

    PS I wonder how Laura feels about it?


  15. floyd says:

    cernig; is that the “moral equivalence of the militant left”??

  16. Christopher says:

    Cernig, you are a freak. And a liberal. But I’m being redundant. If you think brief touching warrants violence and criminal charges you are messed up.

    Anyway…is your daughter cute? Could you post a photo of her?

  17. Cernig says:

    I could Chris, but then you’d just “stroke” out from looking at a pic of a real girl instead of a blow-up one and to be honest I wouldn’t involve her, even at that remove, in your paltry little life.

    And Floyd, no…but Chris is an example of the moral impoverishment of the Militant Right.

    For those who want to discuss the issue instead of show their paucity of language and manners, its not what I think that matters…check your State’s law. Here in Texas its pretty unambivalent- what Bush did would be a crime in his home state if the woman involved pressed charges. Self-defense would be allowed too.


  18. Chaseme says:

    What an dumbass bush is! Couldn’t he remember Cheney’s instructions before he left the house?

    “Chew with your mouth closed”

    “Make sure you don’t speak into an open mike”

    “Keep your hands to yourself”

    I would bet Cheney had the leather strap warmed up when bush got back to the house.

  19. What’s happening here? Poor Max Cleland is being attacked!

    What about this?

    Google images could keep you going for days. Making a big deal of this reveals more about the accuser than the accused.

  20. Thank God it wasn’t Clinton, or there would’ve been a stain on the German – U.S. relationship.

  21. ussjimmycarter says:

    Clinton wouldn’t have been up walking around…there would have been a frauline under the table…

  22. Christopher says:


    YOU were the one who involved your daughter in your poor attempt to criticize a politician sexually. I thought she was now open game and just wanted to get in on the fun. So it is OK for YOU to USE your daughter, but only you huh?
    Sounds like a case of hypocrisy. Sounds like a liberal.

  23. wicky says:

    ”Heâ??s human, real and kindâ?¦see here, here, here, here, here, hereâ?¦get the picture.”

    THANK you for reminding me what a great daddy waddy he is! yes he is.. ooky wooky wooky! I wuv my preznet cuz he made me feel all safe after mean and evill tewworwists blowed up all those peebles and stuff. I would let hims touch MY special secrit place if he want two cuz he is goodandstrong and chews his food just like me! wheeee

  24. legion says:

    So far, the only sane comment I’ve seen on this (here or on other blogs) is Aubrey’s. I lived in Germany for several years & can back her up on this – that sort of familiarity is an incredible faux pas. Doesn’t the State Dept or anyone brief this guy before he’s let off his leash?

    This isn’t about whether or not Bush is a ‘regular guy’, it’s about his competence to represent this country. A ‘regular guy’ might not know how to socialize with people of other cultures, but fer cryin’ out loud, he’s been President for 5 years now!

  25. floyd says:

    christopher; you know you crossed the clear unambiguous line in “hot pursuit ” of your point.

  26. floyd says:

    wicky; homeland security only “protects” the wimpy widdle weft. you could not carjack my car with a boxcutter, let alone an airliner full of nra members.

  27. floyd says:

    cernig; do you mean that even in texas; they don’t know the difference between bad manners and harrassment? so is belching a felony? death penalty for a fart? is deference criminal discrimination?

  28. Ginger says:

    Thousands die of starvation every night, thousands of valuable acres of rainforest go up in smoke every day, thousands suffer from abuse the world over—-and this is all you can find to discuss!

  29. suck says:

    ginger is a dyke

  30. Ralgar says:

    Maybe it helps you a little bit.
    Whatever Georg do, they cant be injure the reputation of the US (in germany, and the so called OLD EUROPE) more then he do it at the last years.

    At Germany, and i am a German, that’s just a behavior from that, what at the US is called a “redneck”.

    So we stretch our arms at the air, and bed for a man, they provide the commission of a “president of the US” again dignity, respect and proud.

    My deepest compassion for you, that you must bearing such guy…

  31. Val says:

    I agree that bush’s behaviour has to be considered unappropriate. it’s not about our typical german stiff/correct/distant/on time ect picture where buddy-like behaviour doesnt fit in. its simply no conduct to a woman, even more if there is official protocol to follow. it#s not about everybody else being narrow minded, it’s about bush forgetting that communication is also about the receivers’ end. and I understand bush as an absolute no-go. that i dont like his politics is another story. greetings from the merkel-country

  32. Dirk says:

    Well, the whole story is different:

    Before meeting the G8 in St.Petersburg Bush visited Merkel to support her party while elections in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Merkel was the one going for intimacy with the president there, caressing his arm in front of her own husband to get a kiss for welcome instead of a handshake and she was quite pleased to get this easy effort.

    Merkel did this also to snub the German peace-movement and to do dirt on former chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s resistance against War on Iraq.

    Everybody knows that Bush is too dumb to make a distinction between BBQ and G8. His behavior is ridiculous anyway – but so is Mrs Merkel’s. She’s the one coquettishly sexualizing politics to suppress substantial discussions. And Bush is only the idiot who thought this was friendship.

  33. Peter says:

    Me, being a German, just now stumbled across this “Grapsch-Gate” (Groper-gate) and have to say, that its an American debate, not a German one. I remember noticing the inappropriate behaviour a Pres Bush to our chancellor, but it never came to my mind or the minds of my Buddy’s to hope that the American Pres gets sued for sexual harassment.

    “Nun lasst aber bitte mal die Kirche im Dorf!” is what my grandma would say 😉

  34. Verena says:

    Hi there, another German commenting here.
    Peter’s comment is alright, but then again, he’s a man… His last sentence “Please leave the church in the village” = don’t make the thing bigger than it is, is appropriate, but GWB’s behaviour clearly is not. It’s not that big of a big deal because German women aren’t suing their colleagues for every inappropriate gesture. Our country does have a suing culture, but lawyers are expensive and don’t come a dime a dozen lie int the US.
    Merkel’s been trying to be friends with Bush since before she got elected chancellor. But having said that, I wouldn’t want MY buddies to touch my neck or give me massages. Especially without warning. Especially a married work colleague.
    How does GWB’s wife feel about this?
    And doesn’t Merkel’s face say it all? “Don’t you touch me!!!”
    My former boss would approach me in exactly this unexpected and unappreciated way, and I complained about this and other sexual harassment, which, in the end, cost him his job. He and Mr. Bush both have no concept of how gestures that might be appropriate in a private context (if indeed welcome) should be refrained from in public.
    His grabbing her shoulders strikes me as that of a helplessly uncultured oaf trying to make friends. His mother should be ashamed for not imprinting more respect for women into her son. I was taught what personal space meant when I was a kid in school.

  35. Al Capone says:

    come on, who cares? As long as GWB doesn’t nuke Germany because it is against the war in Iraq we can stand it.

  36. Hannah says:

    Honestly, no German would ever see something sexual in this gesture. Believe this German woman. I was rather surprised that politicians like them would behave so normal and natural like friends would do and not so stiff as you expect them to be. Don’t worry about the American reputation, Germans are much more relaxed about that topic. We rather wonder how anybody can make such a fuss out of it. They were just goofing around!

  37. Max Moller says:

    Keep in mind…”much like his private note to Condi inquiring about the bathroom”… So he went to have a leak, his fingers got wet and there was no towel available. He just followed the SOP: slap somebody on the back, or grab an arm. That is all.

  38. Martin says:

    At least it’s good to know that they’re good friends isn’t it? *smile*

    This is just to let my fellow American friends know, that we in Germany are very proud, that the relationship between our two countries seems to be back to normal; or even better?

    There was probably no better way to demonstrate this friendship, especially given the fact, that Angela Merkel isn’t that good friend with the Russian President Putin.

    And now that Russia comes back into the G8 being a strong economic force due to it’s strategic position on the energy market (huge natural gas reserves in Siberia, pipeline projects throughout Europe, etc), the western economies have to explicitly demonstrate a real and strong relationship, which Russia undoubtedly still tries to jeopardize.

    Much greetings from Germany

  39. Peter says:

    Martin, without wanting to make you look dumb or anything like that, but there are two things that surely shouldn’t and aren’t really dominating diplomacy: personal friendships, and exclusive friendships (exclusive in the sense of excluding someone, in this case Russia).

    Because NO, nothing is good when friendships are “against someone”, and NO a country, especially Russia, would never react to such diplomacy with something like “Oh man, thanks for reminding us how stupid we were”.

    Thank God that no country can risk lives and money for the sake of having friendships between their democratic leaders. This again leads back to Groper-Gate: In the end, it still was inappropriate to do that.

  40. Alexander Kraft says:

    This is a typical US-centered discussion.

    Over here in Germany, we noticed, that President Bush cannot behave, but we knew that before. And beliberately attacking a whole country, just to serve selfinterest of himself, his major donators and members of his administration is in the view of the world audience in many ways more important.

    Chancellor Merkel is chairwoman of the rightwing-conservative (in German terms) Christian Democratic Union. She is used to harrasment on a daily basis by the leading men of her party.

    So what do you expect of President Bush? I think his behavior is very fitting to his policies. Maybe we’ll catch him at a meeting with arabian Leaders, pulling out his wiener?

    This is how the President of the christian right looks like! Congrats!