March 30, 2008


Another left-handed president? It's looking that way. (Gary Rotstein, 2/25/08, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The big deal here is not just Mr. Obama's orientation. Republican front-runner John McCain comes from the same, left-leaning 10 percent to 15 percent of the population. It's becoming clearer by the day -- unless every right-hander in Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania votes for Mrs. Clinton -- that the next president will be left-handed.

The country has not been faced with such predetermination of presidential handedness since the three-way race of 1992, when George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and H. Ross Perot all favored the same side used by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci to create great art.

Other than the first Mr. Bush and Mr. Clinton, the left-handed presidents everyone seems to agree on were James Garfield, Harry Truman and Gerald Ford. Some lists include Herbert Hoover, but he's omitted from others created by left-handed advocates, perhaps because they want no part of someone on whose watch the Great Depression began.

And then there's the case of Ronald Reagan. He wrote with his right hand, but discussion has abounded that he was switched from his natural tendencies when he was young by strict schoolteachers. It has been pointed out that he slapped Angie Dickinson with his left hand in the film "The Killers," which is what a lefty would do. (No one thinking right would ever slap Angie Dickinson at all, actually.)

So just as in politics, Mr. Reagan apparently went from left to right as his life evolved.

The Other Brother and I make for an especially odd case of handedness: I'm a righty, but hook my writing arm like a lefty, play hockey lefty and various other quirks; he's a lefty but holds the pen like a righty and plays all sports righty. Neither are likely to be president.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 30, 2008 9:33 AM

No one thinking right would ever slap Angie Dickinson at all

It depends on the situation and the circumstances, as well on whether she consented.

Posted by: pchuck at March 30, 2008 11:21 AM

Sinister. Gauche.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 30, 2008 12:17 PM

Handedness, like many things, is a matter of degrees. There are (IIRC) at least several dozen tests, and very few people score all one way or the other.

I remember two of them. Put your hands together, fingers interlaced. One thumb will naturally be on top, and it will feel strange to do it the other way. (I'm a righty but a lefty on this test.)

Another: hold your hands behind your back. The holding hand may or may not be the one you think of as your dominant hand.

Posted by: PapayaSF at March 30, 2008 1:43 PM

I write, eat, and shoot pool lefty, but bat, throw, and use raquets and golf clubs righty. My brother's the same.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at March 30, 2008 1:54 PM

Herbert Hoover [is] omitted from [lists] created by left-handed advocates, perhaps because they want no part of someone on whose watch the Great Depression began.

This precisely sums up the identity politics of various busybodies who call themselves "advocates". they go though the past picking and choosing those who they want to claim as if their criteria and lists mattered.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at March 30, 2008 6:30 PM

Left-hander all the way. The thought of writing with my right hand strikes me as somewhere between highly weird and absolutely impossible.

When I was younger, my maternal grandfather once expressed surprise that my early schoolteachers hadn't disciplined me to be otherwise.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at March 30, 2008 7:36 PM

My right hand is just a counter-weight. Serves no further purpose, near as I can tell.

Posted by: ghostcat at March 30, 2008 8:46 PM

I write, eat, bat, golf, and shoot pool, arrows and rifles righty, but throw and kick lefty. When I play tennis I switch the racket in my hands as required so as to always hit a forehand but serve lefty. My four siblings are all pure righties.

My second grade teacher (and more importantly her yardstick) explains how I came to write righty.

Posted by: Steve White at March 30, 2008 9:56 PM

Y.O.S. does everything right-handedly, except for shooting rifles and shotguns, which I fire from the left shoulder in deference to a left master eye.

Here's why the way I shoot it is better: I am guiding and supporting the gun with my strong hand and arm, while my left hand does the trigger pull and little less. Shooting from the right shoulder is a throwback to the days of matchlocks and flintlocks. In those days one would need his right hand to manipulate the delicate priming and firing mechanisms. But these system on the old-time weapons produce fire, sparks and smoke which the shooter wants to have on the side of the weapon away from his face.

Therefore, historically, the firing mecanism is on the right side of the weapon, and the weapon is fired from the right shoulder. With modern, fixed-cartridge guns, the right-handed individual is better off shooting as though he were left-handed.

Posted by: Lou Gots at March 31, 2008 4:04 AM