George H. W. Bush’s Famous Timewatching

by Michael Auslin

This may be best saved for a Friday link, but in reviewing Serhii Plokhy’s book The Last Empire, on the final months of the Soviet Union, for NR, I watched George H. W. Bush’s 1992 State of the Union address, in which he celebrated the winning of the Cold War. Everyone (of a certain age and political wonkishness) remembers Bush senior’s infamous watch-checking incident during a 1992 debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot. The impression given was of an out-of-touch, possibly bored elder statesman, and helped doom his reelection chances. Well, I just noticed that during one of the biggest speeches of his career — the aforementioned State of the Union — he also glanced down at his watch while waiting for the seemingly endless introductory applause to die down. Maybe he should have been cut some slack for what was clearly a personal tic. Irrelevant to the broader course of history, but an interesting “tell” by the world’s then–most powerful man. You can see the glance around 3:45 in the video, below. 


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