New Hampshire’s Historic (and Secret) Handshakes

New Hampshire’s Historic Marker #188 recognizes a somewhat dubious “Historic Handshake.”

The marker officially commemorates the following historical event: “On June 11, 1995, President William Jefferson Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich met at the invitation of Claremont Senior Citizens, Inc. to debate issues affecting senior citizens. During the debate, the political foes shook hands and pledged to create a bi-partisan commission to study federal limits on lobbying and the financing of election campaigns. This famous “handshake” on campaign finance reform was carried live on television and received widespread media coverage including front page attention in newspapers nationwide.”  Clinton even spoke about it later in his radio address.

It must have been a secret handshake–a gentleman’s (and I use that term loosely) agreement to promote, then promptly forget, their promise–as the problem regarding campaign financing only got worse. Then not too much later, Clinton and Gingrich both experienced hard times, due to their ethical (and apparent memory) lapses.

Strangely, other politicians later thought that the old New Hampshire handshake was worth repeating.  Four years later Sen. John McCain and Sen Bill Bradley performed the secret New Hampshire handshake, again with a promise to eliminate “so-called soft money” if they won the presidential nominations. Bradley reportedly admitted, “Behind every public handshake, like the one in Claremont on this issue, there’s always been a secret handshake.”

Since we have this historical precedent, I think it is time for New Hampshire to declare an Official State Secret Handshake.  My recommendation is the one pictured below.

Rumor has it that Penacook is working on a secret handshake of its very own.  Maybe they are planning to secede.

If you have a suggestion for our official state handshake, lets see it!


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