It often feels like politics only have two gears: terrifying and boring. When there is a major vote hanging in the air that will impact you, politics can be downright scary. Most of the time, though, watching CSPAN is boring enough to put you to sleep.
But every now and then, politics has a third gear: absolutely embarrassing! There are political moments that are sure to make you laugh and cringe at the same time. And the best part is that we have photos and videos to document these crazy moments.
Without further ado, here are the most embarrassing political moments ever captured on camera.
Donald Trump’s awkward handshake
When Donald Trump attended the ASEAN Summit at the Cultural Center of the Philippines back in 2017, he was supposed to participate in a special handshake. But Trump seemed to struggle with shaking hands with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, and the whole thing looked insanely goofy.
John Kerry’s French hug
While Americans often greet their friends with a hug, many are unaware that this sort of thing just isn’t done in France (instead, cheek-kissing is the standard friendly greeting). So, in 2015, when U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry went in for a hug while French President François Hollande went in for a cheek-kiss, it created an awkward moment between the two leaders.
The Clintons’ balloon wonder
If we’re being honest, this entire list could have been filled with embarrassing Bill and Hillary Clinton moments. But none are quite so strange as this moment from the Democratic National Convention in 2016 in which it seems like neither of the veteran politicians has ever seen a balloon before!
George W. Bush dodges flying shoes
Are pictures really worth a thousand words? In 2008, Iraqi journalist Muntadhar al-Zaidi discovered that shoes might be worth even more words as he threw both shoes at George W. Bush in protest. The journalist had legitimate grievances against Bush and the war in Iraq, but the sight of the American president dodging shoes like they are dodgeballs is absolutely unforgettable.
Melania’s gift to Michelle Obama
Even before he ran for president, Donald Trump had a history of attacking Barack Obama online, which certainly made things awkward when the Trumps and Obamas had to meet for Trump’s 2017 inauguration. Perhaps to try to alleviate the awkwardness of their meeting, Melania Trump brought a gift in a Tiffany box and handed it to Michelle when she and Donald arrived at the White House. But the sweet gesture just created more awkwardness. The group was supposed to take a picture together and Michelle didn’t know where to put the box!
Raul Castro raises Barack Obama’s arm
Part of being a president is smiling through some weird situations. And that happened when President Obama joined Cuban President Raul Castro in Havana in 2016. Castro suddenly raised Obama’s arm for no reason and without warning, leaving Obama to awkwardly smile as if this was all part of the plan.
Romney’s dinner with Trump
In late November 2016, president-elect Donald Trump was considering Mitt Romney for a role in his administration. But Romney was never comfortable with Trump, and a viral photo of their awkward dinner together was a hilarious profile of two men: Trump was just happy to see a camera and Romney looked sad that anyone even noticed he was there!
George W. Bush holds crying baby
George W. Bush didn’t want to reinvent the wheel when it comes to publicity, which is probably why he picked up this baby during a 2006 trip to Trinwillershagen, Germany. But instead of getting a photo op with a peaceful baby, we got this funny photo of the child screaming and Bush making cartoon faces in reaction.
Angela Merkel eats pickled herring
German chancellor Angela Merkel has been relatively free of scandals in recent years. But this photo of her absolutely going to town on some pickled herring during a fish trawler naming ceremony in Sassnitz in 2015 still looks silly as hell.
John Boehner kisses Nancy Pelosi
You might think political incidents don’t get much weirder than George W. Bush’s attempt to kiss a baby. But John Boehner kissing House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi while getting the gavel in 2015 really takes the creep cake.
Hillary Clinton caught between a handshake
Is this better or worse than Trump’s weird handshake moment? Here we see China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner trying to shake hands in 2010 while Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is awkwardly stuck between them.
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John McCain goes the wrong way
In 2008, John McCain was the Republican presidential nominee and attended a debate with Barack Obama at Hofstra University. He tried to exit the wrong way and made a hilarious face when he noticed his mistake, instantly creating a viral image.
Joe Biden’s diner weirdness
Part of winning America over as Vice President for Joe Biden involved plenty of trips to diners across the country. But when he visited the Cruisers Diner in Seaman, Ohio in 2012, there was an awkward moment where he pulled up a seat for a female biker and grabbed her shoulders while they spoke.
Unlike Donald Trump, Barack Obama didn’t have a great working relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But he still had to play politics on occasion, and when Obama and Putin shared a luncheon toast in New York in 2015, the two men glared daggers at each other.
George H.W. Bush in a supermarket
George H.W. Bush often struggled to command respect, with his false promise of “no new taxes” effectively killing his chances of a second term. In 1992, he visited the National Grocers Association trade exhibition, and this photo ended up being presented as more proof that Bush was out of touch because he seemed amazed by being in a supermarket.