President Obama Bows Again

November 14th, 2009

By Tom Carter

Obama_bowWell, President Obama has now bowed before the Emperor of Japan, symbolizing the superiority of this head of state over himself and his country.  Say what you want, but it’s not just a sign of respect.  It might be interpreted that way if the Emperor had bowed in return, but he didn’t, of course — he has a better understanding of who and what he is and, apparently, more respect for his country.

First the bow before the King of Saudi Arabia, and now this, all in the context of a President who spends a lot of time apologizing for his country.  The White House tried to explain away the bow in Saudi Arabia; I wonder how they’ll spin this one.

Obama may not think it’s a big deal, but I suspect most Americans disagree.


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10 Responses to “President Obama Bows Again”



  1. Anonymous |

    hmmm bowing in Japan is a courtesy its meant to show respect when you greet someone can’t remember it ever having anything to do with superiority. But I guess that doesnt matter when your looking for a reason to complain.


  2. Brian Bagent |

    Anonymous, it is American tradition to not formally recognize royalty. We are to be cordial, but it ends there. Two friends meeting each other on the street in Japan, bowing, is a sign of respect. Even an American would not be out of line bowing simulateously with his Japanese business counterpart. For American heads of state or their representatives, it is utterly out of line.

    The issue is that we are born sovereign. As sovereigns, we have no superiors or inferiors, only equals. As a replacement for a handshake, no problem. As a symbol of inferiors, huge problem.


  3. larry |

    A simple handsake is all that is required to greet the Emperor unless your Japanese.


  4. Aaron |

    Larry and Brian, you guys are right on target. This president has no clue. He’s going to wreck our country and the way others view it….


  5. Tom |

    By the traditions and standards of foreign affairs and diplomacy, heads of state are equals (as ridiculous as that may sometimes seem) and they do not show deference and subordination to each other, particular formally and in public. That’s true for the president and everyone who represents him. No U.S. ambassador would bow to a foreign sovereign, and the president certainly shouldn’t do it.

    Anonymous, if you read enough on Opinion Forum, you’d know that I’m not anti-Obama and I’m not looking for reasons to complain about him. But this business of bowing to foreign monarchs is wrong, and it’s particularly wrong for an American president, given our history and traditions. Simply put, he ought to know better.

    And look at the ones he’s bowed and shown deference to: the King of Saudi Arabia — enough said. The Emperor of Japan — whose very existence is a sign of our tolerance and charity following World War II.

    And whom did he not bow to (as far as I know)? The Queen of England, the one monarch that he should respect most among them all (although he still shouldn’t bow).


  6. Driving |

    Such a low bow is a mistake on the part of president Obama. It is a clear sign of weakness. He is the American head of state so he doesn’t have to bow to the Japanese emperor. I like Obama a lot, but all this obsequiousness has to stop.


  7. doris |

    Guess it looked better to me than when Bush held hands with that Arab, at least Obama doesn’t look like a sissy or a partner,just a bow,as a sign of respect.


  8. Kevin |

    Admiral Timothy Keating yesterday made a strong defense of Obama’s bow.

    I agree with his stated rationale.


  9. Tom |

    Kevin, by etiquette and protocol, the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, and long-standing tradition, the President of the United States does not bow to foreign heads of state. The same is true for an ambassador representing the head of state. Heads of state are all equal, at least in protocol terms.

    Nixon once bowed very slightly to the previous Emperor, and there was some question of whether it was really a bow. Nonetheless, he was criticized for it.

    For a U.S. military officer to bow to a head of state as a show of respect is not a big deal; neither is it a big deal if he doesn’t. If either were to elicit criticism, which is unlikely, I suspect it would be the bow.

    Obama botched it in a couple of ways. First, he bowed. Second, he bowed while shaking hands (or touching the Emperor), which is a no-no.


  10. Kevin |

    Tom, as Admiral Keating points out, Emporer Akihito is a figure-head barred from ANY role in the government by the Japanese Constitution.

    Obama bowed to the embodiment of Japanese history as a sign of culturally sensitive respect, nothing more.


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