BRATISLAVA, Slovakia – It was a firm presidential handshake. But technically speaking, since he didn't take off his gloves, President Bush (search) didn't press the flesh when he greeted top Slovak officials.
And that was an apparent violation of protocol in Slovakia (search), where leaders always shake with bare hands. The wardrobe malfunction caused a stir Wednesday night in Slovakia, where Bush's arrival for Thursday's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin (search) was shown live on national television.
Deana Lutherova, an expert in Slovak manners and protocol, said Bush's failure to remove his black leather gloves when greeting the country's president, prime minister and other dignitaries was unheard of here.
Bush kept the gloves on even when shaking hands with the Slovak leaders' wives. First Lady Laura Bush also remained gloved at Bratislava's airport Wednesday night, when the temperature was just above freezing.
A call to the State Department's protocol office inquiring what U.S. guidelines say about gloves and handshaking at the highest levels was not immediately returned.
Still, the president got it better for his departing handshakes at the airport Thursday night. The gloves had come off.