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In praise of - hugs.

Among the occasions when I think it might be not such a bad thing to be an American is when I see them hugging.

This is not because hugging is one of my talents – quite the reverse, I'm capable of turning what otherwise might be an elegant kiss on the cheek into a clumsy grapple that only falls short of a World Wrestling Federation move.

It's when you get a picture like the record-breaking tweet of Barack Obama locked in a full-body clinch with his wife, Michelle, that the hug-envy sets in. And this is in spite of the fact this photo hardly seems to show some happy feelgood embrace, but rather the kind of hug you get at the end of a movie when the rest of humankind has been killed by aliens and our two exhausted survivors cling together in relief.

Even so, it's a reminder that kisses are for the cool and faint-hearted, for wimps and Brits who think they are being laid-back. The Obamas are great, incontinent huggers (remember Michelle giving the Queen a quick clasp a few years back?) and this is a picture of two skilled huggers giving it their all.

It's also all the more beguiling since it isn't a victory kiss and was taken when the Chicago results came through rather than at the celebratory end of play. He has his eyes closed. We can't see his wife's face. It's as if, in other words, she could be anyone and he is, perhaps, hugging his supporters in that clinch of relief.

How much more feelgood than the regular victory kiss our British politicians seem doomed to perform with their partners? Their smackers always seem so precariously balanced between triumphalism and the cringingly sexual. Give me an Obama hug any day. Or a Hulk Hogan. Anything's better than a kiss.

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