A Face in the Crowd: American Politicians Pointing

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The Compassionate Conservative: George W. Bush in 2004

A marker of America’s allegiance to individualism, pointing has been a bipartisan constant of the political landscape for twenty-five years. British politicians point at disaster zones and halibut stalls, while American candidates must master the art of pointing at a face in the crowd.

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A means of looking presidential, thanking a volunteer, or making an important donor feel extra special, Bill Clinton debuted his point when he introduced his running mate on the balcony of the Governor’s mansion.

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“I wanted a vice president who really understood what had happened to ordinary Americans in the last twelve years.” Bill Clinton introduces Al Gore in 1992

During the 2008 Democratic primaries, his wife Hillary made the gesture her own. It was as though no politician had ever recognized a face in a crowd before.

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“Over the last week, I listened to you, and in the process I found my own voice. ” Hillary Clinton defeats Barack Obama in the New Hampshire primary, 2008

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“GOP Beltway Boys, yeah, GOP Beltway Boys, you know that 2010 victory that swept you into power? You didn’t build that, the Tea Party did, so dance with the one that brought ya. ” Sarah Palin at CPAC 2014