What a sight. If you've ever wondered what a president looks like embracing an inanimate object — like, you know, a flag — this is your chance to see it. After delivering his address at the National Federation of Independent Business event on Tuesday, Donald Trump hugged the American flag. Then he smiled at his audience, nodding, and followed up with a wave.
The video clip is only eight seconds long but the spectacle could last for ages. In the background, one can hear a random snippet of ethereal music, as if a choir suddenly appeared in the hall and began singing for Trump. While the music plays in the background, the president can be seen walking up to the flag, hands clasped together until he throws them apart in an arms-wide-open stance. It won't be an exaggeration to say that it's the kind of position you take when you see an old friend after years of no contact.
Then Trump strides forward to give the flag a bear hug. The president doesn't give the flag a singular squeeze; he squeezes the flag in an embrace twice all the while grinning at the crowd.
Of course, on Twitter, Trump's hug spectacle yielded reactions of all kinds. But perhaps the most remarkable one was from former California Sen. Barbara Boxer who tweeted, "The American flag stands for justice, freedom, opportunity and compassion for the most vulnerable. Next time, in addition to hugging the flag, hug a child."
Boxer's tweet may be an indirect reference to Trump's hostile anti-immigrant policy, specifically the practice of taking children away from their parents and then detaining them in centers. Trump administration officials justify the practice as a way to "deter" immigrant parents from bringing their young ones to the United States. But it's hard to say if Trump's family separation policy is working to his advantage.
Living conditions for the detained children have been reported to be appalling. In one case, an ex-Walmart center, which is now a detention facility, made airwaves last week when journalists from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and MSNBC were given regulated access into the center.
The scenes were shocking; immigrant children, mostly from Latin America, could be seen living in groups of four to five in one dorm-like room. Time spent out of the facility was strictly monitored by the facility staff employed by Southwest Key Programs. Walls were reportedly adorned with murals of the existing and former American presidents.
In her tacit tweet, Boxer may have referred to those reports, as a way to bring Trump's attention to living things as opposed as to a flag.
Strange as the visual is, it won't be the first time that the president has gone in for a passionate embrace with the American flag. It appears to be one of Trump's go-to activities while he's on stage. In 2016, as is evident in the video clip above, the president hugged an American flag in Tampa, Florida. And the people seemed to love it.
Much like the most recent spectacle, Trump's 2016 patriotic embrace was also peculiar. The president could first be seen clapping enthusiastically as his Floridian audience cheered for him. There were claps but also excited thumbs-up for the crowd. The president then outstretched his arms similar to his 2018 stance and gave the flag a quick and strong hug. If flags were living beings, this flag may have been happy to know the president respected it this much. But that's just a theory.
On Twitter, however, Trump's enthusiasm for the flag fell flat. Many criticized the president for the strange theatrics of the embrace while others simply wanted to know why would a person even do such a thing.