Presidential Debates: Watch the Hand Signals

The hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning. – Adlai E. Stevenson 

I really feel bad for the 2008 Presidential debaters. When they’re asked a question they really don’t have much time to equivocate – the microphone is right there and the most time they can get is a few seconds to frantically search their alter ego databases for the right answer. To complicate matters, they also have to remember what they said the last time they were asked the same question.

The only advice I can give them is to develope hand signals to go with their alter egos. Use of the hand signals will automatically call to mind the answer they gave the last time. Remember, however, in choosing your signal, that America is a country of diversity so we have many nationalities, including citizens from the Middle East who are not terrorists. If you see any of these in the crowd, do not use the thumbs-up gesture AT ANY TIME! This also applies to citizens who imigrated from Latin America, West Africa, Russia, etc. The meaning of the thumbs-up in those and other cultures is basically the same as the middle finger: “sit on it and swivel.”

George and his daddy are both known to have screwed up their sign language. George H. W. during a visit to Australia in the 90s thought he was giving the peace sign to a large crowd, but, because his palm was facing inwards instead of outwards he actually told the whole crowd to go screw themselves. Then Junior, while still Governor of Texas, gave a one finger victory sign (Huh?) – Presumably the other finger didn’t rise to the occasion, but some Americans feel today he was signaling his future intentions.

So, from now on when you’re watching the presidential debates, keep an eye on the hand. If they take my suggestion and use hand signals, some of them are bound to screw up. The president represents the American people. We don’t want to be embarrassed by letting a  screwed-up politician slip through our net.

The worst signals to watch for are:

The A-OK – now this normally has a good meaning, especially in America and the UK. However, some countries see it as an insult, that you’re telling them you think they’re a zero. And, worse than that, to still other countries the circle gives it the meaning of “anus”, and therefore it is used to call somebody an “asshole”.

The Moutza – similar to “talk to the hand as the face isn’t listening” – opening your palm towards your target and stretching out your fingers. In Greece this is a manual insult suggesting “eat shit”, implying you are not impressed and would rather the target of the moutza leave you alone. I read on Language Trainers UK Blog that Microsoft used a very similar-looking hand signal as an icon for warning dialogs in earlier versions of Windows: “This application has performed an illegal operation – now, eat shit!”  I fully expect to see a smiling presidential debater use this signal.  But ignorance is no excuse, so erase this one from your list. Our country cannot afford to put another ignoramus in office.

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