President Obama has bowed at least eight times during his presidency, a habit that some see as a metaphor for his approach to foreign policy.
Obama appeared to bow before Mexican President Filipe Calderon at the 2012 G-20 Summit.
At a school in Mumbai in November 2010 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 some “man and woman in traditional Japanese robes,” according to the press pool report describing the event.
Below you can see the previous five times Obama has bowed publicly.
To be fair, Obama does have a tendency to lower his head a bit in greeting, whether he’s meeting a world leader 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 sometimes makes.
Here is the infamous bow to Saudi King Abdullah, 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.
American presidents, who have been put in charge of a democratic nation that specifically broke from royalty, particularly should not bow to kings and queens. Especially ones running repressive societies like Saudi Arabia. But on the very same day he bowed to Abdullah, he also bowed to Queen Elizabeth, chief of the monarchy that was our former Lord and Master.
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.
Obama once also bowed to Nancy Pelosi. Notice how she then repays the favor by nearly yanking him off his feet.
He even bowed to the mayor of Tampa.
Obama at least has learned not to bow to Saudi royals. Two months after his April 2009 prostration, he avoided repeating the mistake. That is, until the Saudi King TRICKED Obama into bowing to him by awarding him some type of gold chain.
No, we’re not counting this one.
We need our presidents to appreciate and be polite to other cultures and leaders. But the president of the United States is the leading political figure in the world. He must command respect. Let others bow to him.
This is an updated version of an earlier article