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12 December 2008

People, people who kiss (and honor) people


George Bush and Barbra Streisand share an awkward kiss
Link reference: YouTube.com

WHEN KENNEDY Center announced in September that Barbra Streisand was one of this year's Kennedy Center Honorees for exemplary lifetime achievement in the performing arts, two things came to my mind. One was, "How will she behave with Bush?" We all know that Miss Streisand, a long-time Democrat, is the entertainment world's most mercilessly vociferous critic of the George W. Bush administration. And Kennedy Center tradition dictates that the President hosts the honorees in a glitzy dinner at the White House and then graces the star-studded gala, seated in the same dais as the honorees and joining the ovation. In this case, the dinner and the gala were held last Sunday evening.

So how did Miss Streisand and President Bush survive each other on Sunday? As it turned out, there was no collision at all. At the White House, President Bush shook Miss Streisand's hand, bent over . . . and gave her a buss on the cheek! Check the Internet: it's now filled with scattered pictures of the kiss they left behind.

And there's more: during the gala, Miss Streisand and the President threw winks and air kisses at each other. Can it be that it was all so simple that night? Or has time rewritten whatever nasty thoughts they had in mind?

The singer-actress-director-writer-composer-citizen-feminist-activist has since said: "Art transcends politics.” Such graciousness! Such class! I'm impressed! Read what else she had to say about that night (from her blog):

Last weekend, I was in Washington DC to accept the Kennedy Center Honors, and I noticed that the kiss between me and the "soon to be former" President Bush created quite a stir. The Today Show even proclaimed that it was a sign of the apocalypse. The timing is ironic. After eight years of President Clinton and on the cusp of at least four years of President Obama, I get selected to receive this prestigious award . . . during the Bush Administration. I have never met George W. Bush, but for the past eight years I have been blogging about him and his administration on my web site. I have relayed my frustration at the direction he has taken our country in no uncertain terms. So it was just as surprising to me as it apparently was to the press that upon meeting President Bush and extending my hand to him, he said to me, "Aw c'mon, gimme a hug and a kiss," and then he proceeded to embrace me. I must say, I found him very warm and completely disarming . . . even though I think perhaps he was kissing me hello as I was kissing him goodbye . . .

During the White House ceremony, the President described each honorees attributes. After he listed mine, he added, "She's also been known to speak her mind," to which the audience first laughed and then applauded. I genuinely thought he was very funny and very gracious.

During the Kennedy Center Honors, President Bush gave me his signature wink (which he must have passed on to Sarah Palin) and mouthed, "We showed ‘em." I guess in some small way, he and I proved that we could agree to disagree, and, for that weekend, art transcended politics.

See? They got nothin' to be guilty of!

As for the second thought that came to my mind: "Why is she being honored only now?” In her 46-year trailblazing, record-breaking career, Barbra Streisand must have won every single performance accolade available for public consumption, possibly more than any other entertainer in her generation. It really seems bizarre that it took the Kennedy Center 31 years to recognize her achievement. But never mind: her latest bestowal further cements what everyone knows about this Diva of Divas being an indelible work in progress. Oh, and by the way, did anyone ever mention that she's also the first female director to be selected for the Kennedy Center award?

Congratulations to Barbra Streisand on her latest win . . . and to President Bush on his magnanimity!

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