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Historic Handshakes Compared: Trump Exudes Strength, Obama Oozed … Something Else

Much has been made about the historic handshake between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

USA Today declared, “the handshake was more historic than the words.”

The moment helped put a world once on pins and needles over the animosity between these two leaders at ease.

Even MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, a noted Trump critic, was relieved to see the two world leaders coming together.

“I have got to admit when I see these two people shaking hands, I feel a sense of relief as do a lot of people in Washington knowing how bleak the situation was 6 months ago,” Scarborough said.

As is typical, the President expressed confidence as he shook Kim’s hand, establishing dominance, exuding power, and controlling the meeting.

Compare that to Barack Obama, who in his meeting with Cuban leader Raul Castro in 2016, was caught limp-wristed. (RELATED: People Can’t Stop Talking About President Trump’s Handshake With Trudeau).


U.S. body language expert Patti Wood described Trump’s actions during the handshake as a means to establish dominance over Kim.

“Trump gives an upper-outer-arm pat that is called the politician’s handshake, allowing the person using it to show dominance,” she said.

Wood added that the several touches Trump gave Kim on the arm showed even more power.

The arm gestures “signal power and Trump’s desire to look in control of the meeting.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s limp-wrist heard ’round the world showed a leader being led around by Castro, responding not with power, but in a similar fashion to a petulant and defiant child.

It was an incredibly awkward moment for a President who had plenty of awkward, meek, impish reactions throughout his career. (RELATED: Hilarious! My Top 10 List Of Obama’s Least Manly Moments).

Then there are these …

Trump handshake

Trump handshake

Trump handshake

Trump handshake

The Guardian labeled Obama’s handshake incident with Castro a “10/10” on the discomfort scale.

“Maybe he was hoping people would think his real arm was tucked inside his jacket because the right side of his body continued to function normally while he beamed and waved to the audience,” they reported.

There have certainly been other awkward handshakes involving the former President.

At a meeting during the G20 in Brisbane in 2014, Obama, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe engaged in a three-way handshake for some unknown reason.

In 2015, at a bilateral meeting at the UN general assembly in Moscow, Obama reached toward Russian President Vladimir Putin to offer a handshake. His Russian counterpart stared at his hand for a few moments before actually shaking it in yet another awkward exchange.

Trump handshake

Have you ever seen President Trump engage in a handshake that was awkward for him, and not for the person he is trying to exude power over?

Who is the more powerful leader – Trump or Obama? Share your thoughts below!