While watching the shoulder-brushing video we mentioned yesterday, some people had a different reaction. The Los Angeles Times ’ Andrew Malcolm cites a "one-fingered gesture" Obama made while criticizing Clinton’s debate tactics and suggests it was a subtle way of flipping her off: "The presidential candidate raises his right hand to seemingly scratch his cheek. He doesn't use his whole hand though. Just one finger. Briefly. A couple of strokes." Malcolm notes the "buzz" in the audience as evidence that "the crowd sure sees something."
I’m gonna say no. If you look at the full video , you can see the audience was already pretty jazzed at that point, and Obama had just delivered the line that Clinton was "in her element" during Wednesday’s debate. The "mischievous smile" doesn’t come until his "twist the knife" line, and at that point hardly seems like a throwback to the questionable scratch. Plus, think about it: Flipping your opponent off, however subtly, is pretty freaking unwise. He may be young and inexperienced, but he’s not politically suicidal.
What we need is a video montage of how Obama scratches his face. Is the one-finger an anomaly or his standard scratching method? This is why God invented crowd-sourcing.
Update 3:08 p.m.: Alternate angles cast yet more doubt on the finger theory.