On Friday, President Obama began his first official tour of Asia in Tokyo, Japan where he sought to improve faltering relations with the recently-elected Japanese government. The President did little to win over stateside critics, however, when he bowed deeply before Japanese Emperor Akihito on Saturday. Nixon also performed the ritual gesture of respect on his 1971 visit to Japan, but pundits smelled blood, dusting off their anti-kowtow attacks from earlier in the year, when Obama bowed before a Saudi Arabian king. (Photo via Stacy Herbert, Flickr.)
- Scott W. Johnson, Power Line: "Obama's breach of protocol is of a piece with the substance of his foreign policy. He means to teach Americans to bow before monarchs and tyrants. He embodies the ideological multiculturalism that sets the United States on the same plane as other regimes based on tribal privilege and royal bloodlines. He gives expressive form to the idea that the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world. He declares that the United States is a country like any other, only worse, because we have so much for which to apologize."
- Ed Morrissey, Hot Air: "American Presidents do not bow to royalty. In fact, heads of state do not bow or genuflect to each other in the normal course of diplomacy. At least, they didn’t until this amateur came into office and failed to learn from the first time he did it. What will the White House say this time? He got stomach cramps?"
- Armed Liberal, Winds of Change: "Count me among the exasperated at Obama's willingness to bow before royalty - it's funny actually, that such an avowed progressive (the group that believes in dissolving the connections of power) is so willing to reify power by being so deferential to hereditary royalty."
- Michelle Malkin: "Crikey, is there a single adult in the White House who can teach the commander-in-chief some presidential protocol? The Left complained that George W. Bush was too much of a cowboy on the global stage. It’s better than having a waterboy."
- Jack Tapper, ABC: (Quoting an anonymous source) "Obama's handshake/forward lurch was so jarring and inappropriate it recalls Bush's back-up of Merkel…the form of a 1st year English teacher trying to impress with Karate Kid-level knowledge of Japanese customs. The bow as her performed did not just display weakness in Red State terms, but evoked weakness in Japanese terms…"
- Jimmie, The Sundries Shack: "If you were conspiracy-minded, you might imagine that Hillary Clinton has put the word out, quietly, that they should give the President advice like “When you meet the Emperor of Japan, bow so low you can smell his shoe polish” knowing full well he’ll look like a complete rube once the pictures get out."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.