He was like the wise-cracking guy leading a pack of vacationers out of the elevator toward the all-you-can-eat buffet bar, while poking fun at Charlie for getting too much sun on his bald head or at Mildred for putting on a few extra pounds. The others in the group titter with nervous amusement, fearing their ribbing will come next.
Like that dominant male on the cruise ship, Bush exhibits a freedom to mock the appearance of almost anyone, holding up both American citizens and foreign leaders to public ridicule for how they look.
Bush exhibits other physical alpha-male tendencies, such as when he greets another man by cupping his hand behind the man's neck, a sign of both affection and control.
Damn fine way to get to break his arm if anybody had the stones.
Other times, Bush goes beyond playful banter and just tongue-lashes people who have gotten on his wrong side.
In 1986, for instance, Bush spotted Wall Street Journal political writer Al Hunt and his wife Judy Woodruff having dinner at a Dallas restaurant with their four-year-old son. Bush was steaming over Hunt's prediction that Jack Kemp - not then-Vice President George H.W. Bush - would win the Republican presidential nomination in 1988.
Bush stormed up to the table and cursed Hunt out. "You [expletive] son of a bitch," Bush yelled. "I saw what you wrote. We're not going to forget this." [Washington Post, July 25, 1999]
If anyone I like as little as Bush cusses like that in front of my wife, he's gonna get his lights punched out in front of God and everybody, right then and there.
While always ready to deliver insults, the Bush family is famously thin-skinned about receiving them. For instance, George H.W. Bush restricted Newsweek's coverage of his 1988 presidential campaign after the magazine published a cover photo of Bush with the headline, "Fighting the Wimp Factor."
His eldest son, George W. Bush, doesn't even want to take chances with unfriendly audiences. He routinely has his advance teams and Secret Service details weed out people from his speeches who might be inclined to heckle him or ask hostile questions.
Indeed, between his pre-screened crowds and his layers of protectors, Bush has gone through five-plus-years as President with barely a single note-worthy incident of anyone challenging him to his face.
Unlike alpha males in the wild, Bush has managed to mark out his territory knowing that virtually nobody - not another head of state nor a private citizen - is in any position to contest his supremacy.
That's really a shame. With half the secret Service protecting him, he's like a Chimp in a zoo throwing feces, knowing no one can get to him. Once, just once, I'd like to see someone (Pick Me! O, please God, pick Me!) get through his defense cordon, poke him in the chest repeatedly and tell him in no uncertain terms what they think of him. I bet he'd hide behind his mother's skirts and cry. If he rose up on his hind legs like a man, better yet.
There's folks who put it a lot better than I do at "Readers React".