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Tonya Reiman's Body Language Analysis of Bristol and Sarah Palin: In Lockstep with Fox' Palin-Love

Reported by Julie - January 23, 2010 -

It's pretty weird, isn't it, how two people can look at the same thing and see two completely different images? Kind of like looking at a cloud – one sees a bunny rabbit and another sees a beast. On last night's O'Reilly Factor (1/22/10), body language expert and Fox regular Tonya Reiman appeared as a guest to analyze Sarah and Bristol Palin's interview with Oprah Winfrey. I'm not a body language expert, or a psychologist, but Reiman's very, very kind analysis of the interview smacked of pandering. Okay, I'll say it straight: Reiman likes her gig on Fox, and now that Palin's a Fox contributor . . . well, you get the drift. She looked at Sarah Palin and her daughter and saw bunnies. I looked at the same duo and saw Regan in The Exorcist. With video.

Now, you don't have to take my word for it, because I have a few screen grabs here that might tell a different tale than Reiman's generous assessment of the relationship between this particular mother and daughter. And for the record, even as far back as Palin's speech at the RNC, I had a feeling her older daughters, Bristol and Willow, really don't like her much. Not a lot of natural warmth between Palin and her two older girls, despite the posturing on stages all across the country during the campaign. Let's face it, Bristol and Willow don't exactly try their hardest to be considerate of their mother's public image, right? For Pete's sake, Willow's 15 years old, and, as The Huffington Post reported, she was caught by the cops at “an age-inappropriate party involving drinking, beer pong, loud music and property destruction, held at the old residence of one of Palin's buddies who had earlier broken into the house. Police were eventually called to the scene to investigate, and when they questioned the host, she outed Willow as one of the party goers . . . .” Last July, Star Magazine reported that it had pictures of Willow “chugging vodka and smoking pot.” In 2008, the National Enquirer also reported Palin's oldest son, Track, was addicted to oxycontin – she dealt with him, I guess, by shipping him off to the military, which served a two-fold purpose: Keep him somewhere where he couldn't embarrass her, and be the proud soldier-mom.

And Bristol . . . well, her little misstep was well-publicized – you know, the unwed pregnancy thing, all while her mother is the queen of abstinence only/family values. A little in your face, there . . . and, of course, none of these problems of juvenile delinquency – almost all of which Fox studiously avoids mentioning – has anything to do with the fact that Palin decided to be a VP candidate-turned-writer-turned-Fox-News-pundit instead of an involved parent. We all know her history of abandoning commitments mid-stream – I guess her kids are just another casualty of that “doing me” attitude.

But anyway, Reiman noted the stiffness in both women, and said of Bristol, “She's sitting there and I noticed neither of them have, they don't move their hands at all . . . when you don't use gestures it stifles your verbal . . . makes them look unnatural, but in addition to that when Oprah starts talking about sex I saw Bristol take a deep breath in . . . obviously a hot button item.”

Reiman goes on to say, “. . . The sex question, Sarah Palin looks at her daughter . . . there's some sadness in her mouth . . . there's regret, remorse, she recognizes when she says . . . maybe I should have had that, a little bit more of an open idea of what my daughter was doing . . . there's something serious, and she can't go back now but there's regret there in her mouth.” Call me cynical, but I'd bet you dollars to donuts that if there's “regret,” it's because Bristol bollixed up her plans to be the perfect look-how-well-abstinence-works/family values candidate – and made her a granny while she's trying to be a middle-aged temptress.


O'Reilly opined that Bristol looks “very sad.”

Reiman agreed, but quickly asserted, “Their hands are close which gives me an indication they have a good relationship.”


O'Reilly really wanted to attribute that whole stiffness thing to something other than a mother and daughter at odds. Noting that an unwed pregnancy conversation would not be easy for anyone, O'Reilly continued to assert,“I picked up sadness . . . .”

“On both sides, yeah,” Reiman agreed.

Okay, my layman's analysis. That sadness thing they both seemed so eager to latch onto, well, I saw it as disdain on the part of Bristol, and disgust on the part of Palin. That stiffness in the way they're holding themselves appears to me to be a studious effort to avoid touching. No shoulders casually brushing, no patting an arm. They don't look at each other straight on – sidelong glances at best. And their hands aren't that close, either – jeez, they're sitting at a portion of a table about two feet long, and they still manage to keep their distance from one another. Palin's face is a mask of tension, and Bristol looks like she's about to spit nails.


Put ten people, like Reiman, with a General Studies degree who then engage in “independent study of nonverbal communication,” and you'll probably get ten different analyses of body language. If you're Tonya Reiman, and you've got a nice gig at Fox, the last thing you'd want to do is talk about the possibility that Sarah Palin has a crappy relationship with her eldest daughter. I know one thing: I hope I'm out getting a root canal if they ever decide to analyze President Obama's body language with his girls.