Andrew Malcolm at the Los Angeles Times:
How low will the new American president go for the world’s royalty?
This photo will get Democrat President Obama a lot of approving nods in Japan this weekend, especially among the older generation of Japanese who still pay attention to the royal family living in its downtown castle. Very low bows like this are a sign of great respect and deference to a superior.
To some in the United States, however, an upright handshake might have looked better. Remember Michelle Obama casually patting Britain’s Queen Elizabeth on the back during their Buckingham Palace visit? America’s royalty tends to make movies and get bad reviews and lots of money as a sign of respect.
Seven months ago, the White House insisted that Obama didn’t bow to Saudi King Abdullah, understanding the terrible breach in presidential protocol that it represented. They tried to tell reporters that Obama was picking something up off the floor, which the video clearly shows was a lie (at the link). Take a look at the picture of Obama’s bow to the son of Hirohito. Do you see anything on that immaculate floor that requires retrieval?
American Presidents do not bow to royalty. In fact, heads of state do not bow or genuflect to each other in the normal course of diplomacy. At least, they didn’t until this amateur came into office and failed to learn from the first time he did it. What will the White House say this time? He got stomach cramps?
Scott Johnson at Powerline:
Obama’s breach of protocol is of a piece with the substance of his foreign policy. He means to teach Americans to bow before monarchs and tyrants. He embodies the ideological multiculturalism that sets the United States on the same plane as other regimes based on tribal privilege and royal bloodlines. He gives expressive form to the idea that the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world. He declares that the United States is a country like any other, only worse, because we have so much for which to apologize.
Power Line says:
Obama’s breach of protocol is of a piece with the substance of his foreign policy.
Breach of protocol? Obama is establishing the protocol here. It is what he intentionally does, I would think. But it is fair to tie the gesture to Obama’s general message:
He means to teach Americans to bow before monarchs. He embodies the ideological multiculturalism that sets the United States on the same plane as other regimes based on tribal privilege and royal bloodlines. He gives expressive form to the idea that the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world. He declares that the United States is a country like any other, only worse, because we have so much for which to apologize.
That’s rather exaggerated. To bow is not to prostrate yourself.
Bill Clinton disgraced the Oval Office by putting a young female intern on her knees. O-Bow-Now is just taking it to the logical next step, all but hitting his knees himself to any and every alleged world potentate. That seems to be the case except for our traditional allies like Britain, Canada and Australia, of course. That’s likely just too all fired American for him. Tragically, O-Bow-Now’s misguided acquiescence to the world’s leaders and more tyrannical dictators seems to go hand-in-hand with his weak foreign policy, too.
William Kristol at The Weekly Standard:
Perhaps that memory led to Obama’s extraordinary deep bow in reaction to “the extraordinary honor of the meeting with Their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and Empress, on the 20th anniversary of his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne.” I must say, when I was Dan Quayle’s chief of staff, and we met the newly-ascended emperor on a trip to Japan, it didn’t occur to any of us in the official party–all of whom were, I think, perfectly polite–to bow.
In any case, Obama claims that his youthful encounters with Asia make him “America’s first Pacific President.” What of William Howard Taft, who served his nation from 1901 to 1903 as the first civilian Governor-General of the Philippines, with great dedication and considerable success? And what of John F. Kennedy and George H. W. Bush, who, four decades later, served their country in the Pacific Theater with great distinction. Don’t they qualify–more than Barack Obama–as “Pacific Presidents?”
But then again, none of them bowed to emperors.
UPDATE: Allah Pundit
UPDATE: Ben Smith at Politico