Vice President Joe Biden was swearing in new Defense Secretary Ash Carter when he got up close and personal with the wife of the man who now runs the most powerful military in the world.
As Carter began speaking in the Roosevelt Room, Biden beckoned Stephanie Carter from across the room, then put both hands on her shoulders as her husband thanked Biden for presiding over the ceremony. Biden's hands lingered for roughly 20 seconds until he leaned in and whispered in her ear.
What, pray tell, was the vice president confiding in Carter's wife? It's anybody's guess, but within seconds Carter reached back and put his own hand on his wife's shoulder as he thanked his "perfect wife Stephanie" for her support along his professional path.
The incident sparked prompt and voluminous reactions on social media, as many wondered: Just what was Biden thinking?
No stranger to improvisation, Biden over decades has built a brand on his tendency to speak his mind, endearing him to those who crave authenticity from political leaders. Biden's supporters brush off his more jarring moments as "just Biden being Biden."
Biden, who has run for president twice before, has said he's considering running again in 2016.
"Nationally, Biden is just regarded as almost a novelty," said Kyle Kondik, a political analyst at the nonpartisan Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. "It cuts two ways. He gets away with some stuff that others might not get away with, but it also makes him seem like a less serious person than he'd like to be."