October 28, 2004


Look out, Mark! A 64-year-old man is approaching, and he might try to shake your hand!

Labor leader Mark Latham says the prime minister's flapping-style handshake is unnerving.

Mr Howard's handshake, or his "flapping-style armshake", was unusual and special tactics were required to counter it, Mr Latham said.

Defending his up-close handshake with Mr Howard outside a Sydney radio studio on election eve, the taller Mr Latham said he was not trying to stand over the Liberal leader.

Instead, he was getting in close to combat the armshake.

George W. Bush seemed able to cope.

Posted by Tim Blair at October 28, 2004 12:47 AM

Fear of harming the wire device under his coat (for recieving transmitted instructions) would mean that Bush could not afford to be subjected to the famous Howard "flapping arm" shake.
Note that the cunning Bush had arranged for Howard to be seated & reaching accross to Bush, difficult to pull the "flapping arm" manouvre from such a position, heh heh heh... *crafty president*

Posted by: Steve at the pub at October 28, 2004 at 01:02 AM

Its become typical of Mark Latham's style - he can never admit that he'd made a mistake or done something wrong.

He should have just said "it was the day before an election and i was just a little over excited" and everyone would have forgiven him. But now he's tried to go to absurd lengths to justify what was clearly a stupid act.

Its similar in many ways to how he described his "rooster" comment regarding his new best pals Swan and Smith. Once again he should have just fessed up and said that when he called them that he was anagry at them for destabilising Crean and that since then they've buried the hatchet and are great mates. Instead he treats us all like mugs by trying to pass off that he meant it as a mark of respect - a bit like calling somone a skanky ho from behind parliamentary privilege.

And to think we seriously thought that he had the capacity to lead this country.

Posted by: Fred at October 28, 2004 at 01:25 AM

Is this the best he could come up with? Seems to me Australia dodged a very flappy bullet.

Posted by: Rebecca at October 28, 2004 at 01:30 AM

A grown man scared of a flapping handshake? An acid reflux excuse would have been more believable.

Posted by: Mr. Simpson at October 28, 2004 at 01:34 AM

Yet another similarity between Latham and Kerry -- neither can admit to making a mistake.

Posted by: EvilPundit at October 28, 2004 at 01:49 AM

EXCUSE ME, Fred, just WHO thought Latham had the capacity to lead the country? Clearly the Australian electorate never had such thoughts. On which side of the "cappucino divide" do you live?

Posted by: Steve at the pub at October 28, 2004 at 01:51 AM

Steve - i was in the "Latham is mad" crowd as well - but i won't deny that for several months leading up to the election, a sizeable proportion of the country clearly considered him a reasonable alternative. Even Tim himself thought that he would win - not that he endorsed him, but obviously saw the possibility that most australians would. Point is - its funny how hindsight and the aftermath has vindicated the voter's final decision.

Posted by: Fred at October 28, 2004 at 01:54 AM

"Its become typical of Mark Latham's style - he can never admit that he'd made a mistake or done something wrong."

Actually all leftists have this character trait. It's inconceivable that they can be mistaken. It's one of the things that make them so revolting.

Their insane theories are never wrong, they fail because those who oppose them aren't being accommodating or compromising enough. They can take completely opposing points of view on the same topic depending on racial, gender and religious considerations, not because they're racist hypocrites but because their opponents don't have the intellect to understand their nuanced view of the world.

Being a leftist means never having to admit you're an asshole or stupid.

Posted by: Arty at October 28, 2004 at 01:56 AM

So Mark Lithium can't work out what everyone's in a flap about.

Posted by: observa at October 28, 2004 at 02:06 AM

When Bush Senior came to Australia, he played golf with Bob Hawke (Keating had just taken power).

Posted by: Jonny at October 28, 2004 at 02:24 AM

So, Tim - how come when I hit a link to The Age from your site I get "URL redirection limit exceeded", but if I plug said URL into Google I get a working link? Somebody over there not like you?

Posted by: mojo at October 28, 2004 at 02:33 AM

He needs tactics to counter a handshake? And he would actually admit that? It's a good thing Mr. Howard doesn't scowl at him or anything. I'd thing it Would crush Mr. Latham's will. Mr. Latham must be a real nut.

Posted by: Mikey at October 28, 2004 at 05:03 AM

Jeez, what a big baby this Latham must be. He should try shaking hands with my 19-year-old son - he'd need splints on his fingers for a week afterwards.

Posted by: Annalucia at October 28, 2004 at 05:14 AM

I have shaken hands with John Howard and his handshake is perfectly ordinary.

Posted by: Sue at October 28, 2004 at 05:39 AM

What a come-down for the fearless breaker of taxi-driver's arms!

Posted by: Kevin Dunn at October 28, 2004 at 05:58 AM

When it came down to it, Latham just wouldn't put his money where his mouth is; he refused to 'ease the squeeze'.

Posted by: Grand Old Elephant at October 28, 2004 at 09:29 AM

Not to pick nits with a perfectly pleasant article, but I doubt that your Prime Minister "shared cocktails" with our President, as our President eschews alcohol.

I suggest that Mr. Latham take up squeezing a tennis ball daily so that he can cope with Mr. Howard's Kung-fu Grip!


Posted by: furious_a at October 28, 2004 at 04:30 PM

Arty. the very same can be said of conservatives.

Look at the current ideas in the US election (I use the term ideas loosely); it is better to hold firm, even if you are wrong, than to admit you made a mistake.

Bit sad that you can't see both sides. Both lefties and conservatives are really pretty similar in this respect.

But seriously, can't Howard handle a harder handshake?

Posted by: gus at October 28, 2004 at 04:34 PM

But seriously, can't Howard handle a harder handshake?

Wait, that was the serious part of your post? You're honestly concerned about that?

Posted by: PW at October 28, 2004 at 05:34 PM