I‘ve got to tell you I’m a lot less excited about “the bow” Barack Obama gave the Emperor of Japan than many on the right. But it does, surprisingly, show an amazing lack of sophistication in our supposed cool and sophisticated President. Not about Japanese culture in particular – a bow is not necessarily a bad thing if it is a bow of equals. His was decidedly not a bow of equals. But instead it demonstrates his lack of knowledge concerning the job he holds. American presidents don’t bow (at least to that extent) to foreign kings or emperors. Just as we don’t dip our flag to any king or emperor, we don’t bow before them. In fact, we made sure that we’d never have ranks and/or titles of nobility in this country by essentially outlawing them. His bow is just another in a long line of indicators that he’s not well prepared for the job.
I think what offends Americans – at least some Americans – is the type of bow Mr. Obama used. Too deep, eyes to the ground, etc. etc. You can read all of the critiques elsewhere. Had he matched the Emperor’s bow (much like the bow he gave the Empress), no problem.
You have to wonder who his protocol people are and whether or not he listened to them or did this on his own. Regardless, he looked foolish and that’s not what we pay our Presidents to do. Of course, as some have pointed out, it’s probably, better than blowing your lunch in the Japanese PM’s lap George HW Bush did – but not much.
In diplomacy, symbolism is very, very important. So is tradition. Both were set on their ear with the bow. You have to wonder when Obama is going to realize that with the job comes the examination of every single thing he does or doesn’t do. But in the big scheme of things, I find his gaff below to be much worse than his bow to the Emperor of Japan.
Commander’s in Chief salute or put their hands over their hearts at appropriate times during ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknowns on Veteran’s day (like when everyone else is saluting or putting their hand over their heart). They don’t stand there giving a crotch salute. Typically self-absorbed, I’m sure he just completely forgot this particular ceremony wasn’t all about him.