He doesn't do hugging.
On the "NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" last night, pundit Mark Shields had this response to Lehrer's question, Has Obama been sufficiently empathetic in handling the Gulf oil-spill crisis:
Well, empathy -- I think empathy is different in this sense, because President Obama came to his preeminence politically in September of 2008, in the time of the financial crisis, when he showed a sense of confidence and control and almost command, as John McCain didn't, quite frankly, at that time in September 2008.
And I think that probably sewed up the election right then and there, I mean, the events and his performance. Now I think that there is a certain passivity that has come through, that the president has not been assertive. The empathy thing, that -- he has to stay within his game. He is not, by nature, a demonstrative person.
It has served him very well. He is a controlled and cool and almost detached person publicly. And that has served him well in his career. And it would -- I think it might be artificial if he started showing tears or whatever at this point. But it would be nice to see him hug somebody in a way of consolation. [Emphasis added.]
It's true, Obama is among the most aloof and least tactile of presidents. But it's been only 18 months. Maybe he'll discover his inner empathizer. After all, he seems to have the "bromancer" thing nailed, hugging guys all over the place...
"I hate to do this to you, but some folks back in Washington want me to be in touch with the People, like literally."
"John, if you'd torn apart those Swift Boaters the way I shot down Hillary's 'revelation' about my kindergarten ambitions to be President, today this spread would be all yours."
"No, I'm not making myself clear - I want you to pretend Malaysia has nukes. Then you announce in a big voice you're giving them up. It'll get the ball rolling, trust me."
"I know how uncomfortable this is for you, Felipe. But I have even PBS - you know PBS, it's the one that's actually heard of Mexico - complaining I'm allergic to physical contact."
"You know I'm seriously married, right?"
"Nancy, if were up to me, you'd be on the cover of Time, every week."
"You know you're seriously married, right?"
With Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "C'mon you two, enough shop talk. One of you's got to teach me to bowl."
"Ben - I want to say just word to you - just one word - derivatives."
"Not too close, Tim. I need Wall Street to hate you, not me."
"Bill, where ya goin'? Lewinsky, Katrina - it's a wash!"
"Okay, this doesn't count. She's hugging me."
"These embassy visits drive me nuts. Every staffer expects me to hug their kid, and every kid goes straight for my nose."
"So Helen, it's my 48th birthday and I need a taster for these cupcakes."
"I can say this now, actually I did want to be President in kindergarten."
"Man, this kid weighs a ton."
"...TV producers on the Coast..."
...record label. It is 'leader of the free world', but that doesn't apply to the cokeheads who make decisions in your business."
"Hey hey hey, Congress passed the bill, I just signed it. You should be hugging Harry Reid."
"Joe is not gonna say 'this is a big f---ing deal' and spoil the moment."
"When I'm a private citizen, you bet I'll get an Audi..."
"...an Embraer private jet..."
...giganto Samsung flat-screen monitor. Uh wait, I think we already have one in the Situation Room."
"Your husband's got to know, purple shirt, silver tie, doesn't work."
"Every time I turn around there's another Kennedy."
"I was thinking, for a little while, maybe we should let Jill handle your public appearances."
"I will take care of your members. Who knew the Secret Service has a union?"
(White House, Getty Images, Reuters, AP.)