Barack Obama's peculiar tendency to bow -- first to the Saudi king and now to the Japanese Emperor -- has been commented on from many angles this week. But the one I haven't heard is the one I find most glaring; namely, that his bows are always to hereditary monarchs.
Obama does not bow to elected leaders or "conventional dictators," but when facing monarchs he goes ass in the air and eyes to cock level. That he did it again, after hearing all the criticism from his first bow, shows he takes it very seriously. This is not a matter of him making a rookie mistake or being unaware of protocol...and with that in mind, it is hard to believe that he is merely trying to be polite, as some of his apologists would have us believe.
This not a trivial matter when you consider that America's founding was based on opposing the very notion of monarchy...and when you consider that no other president in our history has ever bowed to royalty, precisely because doing so is a sign of subservience that contradicts our founding principle that "all men are created equal."
If you think I'm a right winger making a mountain out of a molehill because Obama's a Democrat, maybe you will understand this is not a trivial matter when you consider what the very liberal New York Times had to say when Bill Clinton was president. After Clinton almost bowed to the Japanese Emperor, their editorial page opined: "He inclined his head and shoulders forward, he pressed his hands together. It lasted no longer than a snapshot, but the image on the South Lawn was indelible: an obsequient President, and the Emperor of Japan. Canadians still bow to England's Queen. So do Australians. Americans shake hands. If not to stand eye-to-eye with royalty, what else were 1776 and all that about?"
How does it appear elsewhere when our president bows? Well, in Japan, the very manner in which Obama did it is considered indicative of weakness, and it has been reported that the Japanese public responded negatively because they fear what might happen if America's leadership is weak at this critical moment in history. Since Japan is our friend, I shudder to think how Obama's bowing is portrayed by our enemies.
And finally, one more thing. As my brother pointed out, Obama has met Queen Elizabeth, and as far as I know he did not bow to her. Although I strongly believe that Americans should not bow to any monarch, regardless of nationality, I find it especially odious that Obama, who spent years in a church whose preacher bellowed "God damn America" after 9/11, makes a point of bowing only to those who are from non-Western societies.
Much thanks to Mona Charen for digging up that New York Times quote.