Bow? Wow!
By John D. Turner
26 Nov 2009

So what exactly did President Obama do when he met the Saudi king? Some say he bowed. Indeed, upon reviewing the video, thatís what it looked like to me. Of course, I watched the video on Fox News, so I probably didnít see what I thought.

Fox is so right-wing, you know.

Indeed, according to the White House Press Secretary, the President did no such thing. King Abdullah is kind of short, he explained, and President Obama is kind of tall. He had to bend over in order to shake hands with him.

Hmm. Iíve shaken hands with short people before. Iíve shaken hands with kids. I donít recall having to bend over at the waist, so that my head was below their chin level, in order to do so.

If it were the Pope in the picture instead of King Abdullah, I would have thought he was kissing his ring.

Perhaps the President lost a contact lens and was trying to find it. (Does the President wear contact lenses?) Or maybe he tripped, or lost his balance, or maybe meeting King Abdullah made him a bit weak in the knees.

Or maybe he bowed?

And donít look now, but Ė oops! He did it again!

This time, President Obama somehow found it necessary to bow to Emperor Akihito of Japan. Of course, Emperor Akihito is short to, so maybe he is just bending over again. His eyes are focused downward, so at least we donít have to worry that he, unlike a previous president, might possibly be eyeballing the Emperorís wife.

And again! This time to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. Whoís next? I need to hurry up and publish this before the list gets too longÖ

Websterís Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary gives several meanings to the word ďbowĒ; ďto bend the head, body, or knee in reverence, submission, or shameĒ; ďto incline the head or body in salutation or assent, or to acknowledge applause.Ē

No one was applauding his entrance, in either case, that I could see. I suppose he could have been acknowledging a salutation, or agreeing to something that was said to him; there was no sound track with the King Abdullah video Ė or at least I could not tell if something was said. However typically, such a bow is not done quite so deeply; a nod or slight incline of the head usually suffices. A bow where the head dips below the level of the chin is usually reserved for great respect or obeisance, and is usually rendered to royalty, which both King Abdullah and Emperor Akihito are.

He didnít do that when he was introduced into the presence of Queen Elizabeth. But then again, there is nothing special about Great Britain; they are just one of the 170 or so countries that make up this globe, no more, no less. Or so we are told by the State Department these days.

King Abdullah, on the other hand, is the leader of a great nation, with lots of oil (which we need at a cheap price), and lots of money (which we need to borrow). We are likely to get neither from England, who needs both about as bad as we do.

And besides, heís Muslim. Donít want to offend the ďreligion of peaceĒ now, do we?

Emperor Akihito is the leader of one of our major trading partners. We need the Japanese to buy our stuff, even if much of that stuff is actually made in China. Japan also exports a lot of things we buy, and Japanese companies here in the US employ quite a few Americans. England holds no such special relationship with us.

As an American, I am offended at the picture of the President of the United States bowing to any monarch (or anyone else, for that matter). I would be offended if he had bowed to Queen Elizabeth. I would be offended at any U.S. President doing the same. It is particularly offensive to me when he does it to the leader of a country like Saudi Arabia; the country where the bulk of the terrorists who brought down the twin towers came from. The country that spawned Osama bin Laden and others of his ilk. The country that funds the Wahhabi madrassahs that spew venom and hatred of the United States and Israel. A country that stands for none of the freedoms that we claim to stand for, that treats its women like dirt, where the rich are fabulously wealthy and the poor are dirt poor Ė something that liberals pretend to abhor.

You know, we fought a revolution to free ourselves from the tyranny of a king, and adopted a different form of government, a constitutional republic, so that we would never have to bow and scrape to one again.

But our press secretary says that the President really didnít bow to King Abdullah. It just looked that way. As for Emperor Akihito, well, the President was just observing protocol.

Really. Itís funny that no other president has observed such protocol. Japan has had quite a bit of time to get used to the fact that Americans donít bow; they shake hands. You would think that the President of the United States, and his advisors, would know that too.

Besides, asks the Press Secretary, with so many people out of work, donít we have anything better to discuss anyhow?

By that logic, we should never discuss anything; there are always people out of work, even in the best of times. It didnít seem to stop the Democrats about discussing anything that George Bush may have done while he was in office; they slammed him for anything and everything, including people being out of work while people were out of work. What the press secretary was really talking about was discussing anything critical of the President; that apparently is a no-no as far as this administration is concerned.

Bowing seems to be the new US protocol. I would say bowing to royalty, but he didnít bow to Queen Elizabeth of Britain, and he did bow to Premier Wen Jiabao of China, who is not a monarch. It is interesting that none of them are seen bowing back to Obama. Indeed, they are standing straight up, shaking hands in the Western fashion.

It is not something that Americans have traditionally done, but then again, this administration is doing a lot of things outside of American tradition; taking over banks, taking over the automobile industry, firing the president of General Motors, the list goes on. I guess thatís part of the ďchangeĒ we voted for in November.

Then again, it is something that is in the tradition of heads of state the world over for thousands of years; vassals always bow to those who hold their fealty. When you look at the amount of American debt held by China, and the fact that we will continue to need China to buy even more debt into the foreseeable future, coupled with the continuing gargantuan appetite we have over here for cheap Chinese goods and services, that pretty much puts us in the position of de facto fealty. We may not have sworn the oaths, but the effect is politically the same.

Get used to it America. Expect to see more of the same behavior in the future.