Among the more disturbing bits of news to emerge from Obama’s disastrous voyage to Asia last week was that he has resumed his bowing habit.
While it doesn’t appear he made it to the 90 degree angle he assumed before Saudi Arabia’s King Abduallah last year, he partially bent himself forward twice on the trip, bringing the number of formal bows the Obama has given during his presidency to at least seven. Not counting, of course, the ones we don’t know about.
At a school in Mumbai November 7 he “drew his hands together, as if in prayer, and greeted the children with a slight bow,” according to an account in the New York Times. A week later, while preparing to behold the Japan’s Great Buddha, he bowed to “a man and woman in traditional Japanese robes,” according to the press pool report describing the event.
Now, let’s be fair. Nah . . . forget it. No, OK, let’s be fair, Obama does have a tendency to lower his head a bit in greeting, whether he’s meeting Putin or the guy who arrived to install the cable. So we are counting only what appear to be formal bows, beyond the little duck-and-greet move he frequently makes.
Below you can view the previous five known instances of Obama bowing. These are far more egregious, since he is in several cases bowing to royalty. American presidents, who have been put in charge of a democratic nation that specifically broke from royalty, do not bow to kings and queens. Especially ones running repressive societies like Saudi Arabia.
Here is the infamous bow to the Saudi King, on April 1, 2009 in London. It’s not clear what was more disturbing, Obama’s bow or the subsequent attempt by the White House to deny that he was bowing.
On the very same day, he bowed to Queen Elizabeth.
Not to be deterred by the criticism that followed, Obama bowed later in 2009 to the emperor of Japan.
You’ll notice after his initial bend-over toward Akihito, he erupted into a kind of fit of bowing, throwing off mini-bows at the rate of about one per second.
Let’s contrast this with the president of South Korea. The Koreans are of course more keenly aware of the history of Japanese “royalty,” remembering that Akihito’s papa Hirohito acquiesced in Korea’s brutal subjugation by the Japanese military. Here we see the South Korean president – I believe it’s Kim Dae-Jung – not only ignoring a proffered handshake from the emperor, but his wife shoving the Empress out of the way to get to her seat.
Obama once also bowed to Nancy Pelosi. Notice how she then repays the favor by nearly yanking him off his feet. I think I hear her saying,”I like that, bow to me every time from now on.”
He even bowed to the mayor of Tampa.
Obama at least has learned not to bow to Saudi royals. During this meeting, in June of 2009, he appears not to repeat his previous mistake. But of course the Saudi King TRICKED Obama into bowing to him by awarding the him some type of gold chain.
Abdullah probably figured Obama was real “hood” and would love such a thing, but the president is an Ivy League academic and looked distinctly uncomfortable receiving the ornament.
Make not mistake, Obama’s bowing surely isn’t worse than Bush’s cuddly embrace of the Saudi King and his royal customs. America was justly repelled by the sight of Bush holding hands with Abduallah and the two of them promenading down a path like a pair of girls on the way to glee club practice.
Bush should have said, “Sorry, I don’t care about your customs – which include stoning, severing limbs and so forth. I’m not going to hold your hand or kiss your disgusting woolly beard.
Here’s a video that commemorated Bush’s “relationship” with Abdullah.
We need our presidents to appreciate and be polite to other cultures and leaders, sure. But the president of the United States is the leading figure in the world. He must command respect. Let others bow to him.