Should you be bothered that Pres. Obama bowed to the Japanese emperor?

Some people have their knickers in a twist over Obama’s bow to¬†Akihito¬†and the empress, Michiko during his Japanese visit recently.

Was the president simply observing protocol? Did he go too far? Your thoughts?

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34 Comments

  1. Don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain! He’s just trying to take your mind off the important stuff!

    1. Good response!

      You’ve got to be kidding me! So, is shaking another leader’s hand too beneath the US, too?

      If we want the world to respect us, we need to be respectful of the world. (Conservatives – listen up!)

    2. What! You mean bows aren’t important?!?! Diplomatic protocol isn’t important? For shame, Sis. Cynical.

  2. Jac, that was my response.

    I’ve visited many countries and I observe their customs, period. Being a president doesn’t make you any different.

    Some people were complaining that bowing broke some military protocol..eh. I would rather break protocol while showing someone respect.

    I hate to say it, but most of the people who whine about this have never left good ol’ America and know little to nothing about diplomacy. My diplomat-dad taught me better: when in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    1. Same here. My father traveled a great deal and he came home with stories of how some of his fellows from America put their foot into it — diplomatically-speaking — because they refused to believe they’d ever left Dubuque, Iowa.

  3. Every president has a Chief of Protocol, who has a staff of experts. He takes advice from them for any trip outside the US.

    Look at the difference in height between Obama and the Emperor and Empress. It would have been awkard NOT to bow.

    The bow was quick and friendly, not showing any subservience.

  4. There is an old American thing about, since the US ended monarchy, US Citizens should not bow their heads to any person who inherited the position, since the US believes in the rghts of all people and democracy. As a free citizen, he is as good as anyone on Earth (which is also why it is Mr. President and not the Honorable or something else. Anyone should be satisfied with Mr. or Ms.)
    Don’t really have a dog in the fight, but I don’t think the argument against it is entirely without merit.

  5. Yeah, he shoulda offered to arm wrassle the Emperor, like GW woulda.

    This is another non-issue. Like Jay said, the Pres has a protocol officer. My take on it is, it’s certainly not required, but it is respectful. I suspect if the Emperor came to Washington, he’d stick his hand out for a handshake.

    1. Do you think certain types in the Japanese press would then attempt to make that into some kind of Thing?

  6. Economy tanking, health care in a decline, at war with two countries and we worry that our President barely nodded to a little Japanese lady????? Reminds me of when you are taking care of a baby and you shake a rattle to distract them from fussing~

    1. I’m enjoying the hell out of the arguments, though. Is that wrong of me? Is that small? Yes. I think that it is.

  7. The more I think about this, if there was some way around this, he should have gone that route. It drives me bonkers to see American celebrities curtesy and get twitterpaited to meet the British monarchy. Its an old rich lady with a fancy hat. If you shake hands with an elected official, it should be good for the monarchy.

    Now you’ll excuse me I have alesson plan to write on Homowo, “Hooting at Hunger” festival from Ghana.

      1. Well, I’m covering NIgeria’s Yam Festival and Ghana’s. We are going to talk about Ghana’s festival – the whole area is supposed to go quiet, no dancing no singing no bright lights for about a week. Then the day before the festival you get rid of all your old yams. The oldest man in the village or the king gets the new yams and distributes them to everyone. During the first day there are no funerals or any sadness – everyone eats and eats yams. No one goes hungry, and no one locks their doors. The next day is a day of rememberence of the dead. So people cry, and mourn and remember their dead ancestors. The last day they have another big party, put on masks, dance, wrestle etc.
        So I’m going to have the kids make masks, we are going to eat a Nigerian Yam dish that I just made, and listen to Ghanian music. We’ll talk about the two other harvest/Thanksgiving festivals and how they are the same and different from the US’s. (I taught them about Pongal, from the Tamil Nagu state of India, and Tet from Viet Nam.) FWIW, its the Igbo people in Nigeria and the Ga people in Ghana that celebrate this.

        God, I love learning and sharing with the kids this stuff. They share my geek enthusiaism for all things multi culti and they get why you have to try some food.

        1. How cool is that? Get rid of your old yams. I believe I shall go home and do precisely that.

  8. Yeah, he shoulda asked the Emperor, “Who’s the black sheep of your family?” and he shoulda winked at the Empress. He could have said to the Prime Minister, “”Yo! How are you doing?”

    Funny how good ole boy Georgie can get away with this crap, but when Obama shows proper respect for other world leaders–as they have for him–the blogosphere goes bonkers.

    1. Except of course that our President is not under the sovreignity of a Monarch. Like I said – if he shakes hands or does the shimmy or whatever with an elected official, it should be fine with an unelected monarch. Bowing your head to a monarch is an act of subservience. You wouldn’t like it if the protocol was for the PResident to kneel and have the monarch place his foot into his hand.

      1. Actually, that would make for a fabulous photo op! I once had a man bow to me at a fundraiser and I cracked up laughing. I think he meant to be polite but it struck me as incredibly obsequious. If that word is spelled incorrectly, tough.

      2. Remember the picture of Obama bowing (much lower) to a child while the child rubs his head? I believe in this situation the bow was not an act of subservience but an act of respect. Don’t the Japanese bow instead of shaking hands?

          1. I LOVED THAT PICTURE! It was actually a crop of a larger picture in which the kid’s parents stood off to one side, but the fact that Obama would bend over so the kid could feel his haircut (which was identical to the kid’s) just made me tear up. And the little boy had such a serious look on his face. Some day he’s going to say “no, seriously, I rubbed the president’s head! I did too! I’m not lying! He let me do it!”

  9. I know I’m repeating myself, but in the (imagined) words of Zippy the Pinhead, “Terrorist Fist Bump! Terrorist Fist Bump! Terrorist Fist Bump!” And also “Where’s the birth certificate? Where’s the birth certificate? Where’s the birth certificate?”

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