Awkward Obama Photos

An uncomfortable shot of the first couple with Dominique Strauss-Kahn surfaced this week. From Michelle’s run-in with Tony Blair to Barack’s clumsy chest bump, more awkward pictures.

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Presenting the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Obama presented the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Joseph Medicine Crow, the last living Plains Indian war chief. During World War II, Medicine Crow accomplished all four tasks required to become a war chief, including stealing 50 Nazi horses from a German camp. He got a master’s degree in anthropology in 1939, and was the first person from his tribe to go to college. Perhaps his many accomplishments explain why he does not seem particularly excited to be receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But they certainly don’t explain the look on Obama’s face.

Catching a Stolen Glance

During the 2009 G-8 Summit in Italy, President Obama and other world leaders spent a great deal of time and energy coming up with new ways to combat climate change. But it was this photo of President Obama seemingly checking out Brazil’s junior delegate 17-year-old Mayora Tavers—while French President Nicolas Sarkozy looked on appraisingly—that made the rounds during the conference. After a closer video inspection, it was discovered that Obama was actually helping a nearby woman down the stairs. Unfortunately for Sarkozy, no video has cleared him yet.

Meeting DSK

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former IMF chief now accused of attempted rape, first met the Obamas at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009. The resulting photo, uncovered by New York magazine, says it all.

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Popping the Sparkling Wine

First Lady Michelle Obama christened the National Security Cutter Stratton on July 23, 2010. It was the first time in U.S. history that a first lady sponsored a Coast Guard vessel. It may also be the last time, because it looks like she managed to get Champagne on everything but the ship.

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Reading to First Graders

Early in 2009, the president and first lady went to the Capital City Charter School in Washington to read to second-graders. The president told the group that they were stopping by because, “We were just tired of being in the White House.” It actually seems from this photo that the president was just tired in general. At the end of the visit, the first lady said, “Thank you, guys. This was fun.” Perhaps the president disagreed.

Rob Carr / AP Photo

Obama and the Naval Academy

In 2009, President Obama gave a commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. After the speech, an enthusiastic new officer decided a chest bump was in order, and Obama graciously reciprocated. Sen. John McCain, whom Barack Obama beat in 2008, was present at the ceremony watching his son graduate. It does not appear that the two former rivals shared a similar greeting.

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Meeting Carla Bruni

Admit it: It would be hard to be in the same room with France’s first lady Carla Bruni without doing something awkward. Bruni is a former supermodel who is on the record as having said she gets “bored with monogamy,” and her alleged former lovers include Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Kevin Costner, Vincent Perez, Donald Trump, and former French Prime Minister Laurent Fabius. President Obama greets her here at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh in 2009—as his wife seems to be reminding everyone that this is American turf.

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Signing the Guest Book

Photographed here signing the guest book with Queen Elizabeth II doesn’t look too awkward, but a closer look at Obama’s signature reveals there may have been some tension. Despite visiting with the queen in May 2011, Obama was perhaps thinking of a simpler time—before “birthers,” or the coming election—when he signed the date as 2008. Oops.

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Drinking a Guinness in Ireland

Raise your glass, Mr. President! Although the White House has previously been populated by some drinkers, its last occupant, former President George W. Bush stopped drinking cold turkey in 1986, so photos of a drinker-in-chief were rare—and teetotalers could rest in peace. Obama had no trouble getting in the Irish spirit of things on a trip to Ireland in May 2011, as photographed here when he saluted his Irish ancestry with a Guinness.

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Michelle Obama and Tony Blair, 2009

To be fair, it is hard for Americans to get down with the whole European tradition of kissing on each cheek. First lady Michelle Obama and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair gave each other the friendly greeting at the 2009 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. There must not have been too many awkward feelings later though, since Blair referred to Obama as his “great friend” later at the prayer breakfast.

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Obama and Cameron Play Table Tennis

Out of my way, Mr. Prime Minister! President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron joined forces for a “friendly” game of table tennis with some students from South London on May 24, 2011. Obama’s competitive nature kicked in as onlookers reported he sighed when they missed shots and made excuses when the ball fell short of the table. Obama has been known to be gung-ho in sports, especially basketball—he once required 12 stitches after a particularly intense game against family and aide (and former Duke basketball player) Reggie Love, Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute President Rey Decerega.

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Obama, Silvio and Dmitri

World leaders or a new boy band? President Obama posed with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev at the G-20 summit in London in April 2009. They must have hit it off: Within two years, Berlusconi would be pulling the president aside at the G-8 summit in France to complain about his legal troubles while a 90-minute phone conversation a day earlier between Obama and Medvedev inspired Medvedev to reverse his policy on Libya. Thumbs up for everyone.