Tuesday, November 17, 2009
How about a simple high-five?
Is this picture offensive to you? I guess it depends if you're conservative or liberal.
President Obama is being criticized by some conservative commentators for his deep bow to Japanese emperor Akihito during the weekend, accusing the U.S. commander in chief of groveling to a foreing leader.
Akihito's father ruled when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941. Obama greeted Akihito with a handshake and nearly a 90-degree bow, sparking much online commentary.
According to the Associated Press, former President George W. Bush was mocked for holding Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's hand, a traditional sign of friendship in the Middle East, as they strolled together in 2005.
In 1994, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was criticized for almost bowing to Akihito. The resulting image, The New York Times wrote, was of "an obsequent president and the emperor of Japan."
Former President Richard Nixon, a Republican, can be seen in a Life magazine photo from 1971 bowing to Akihito's father, Emperor Hirohito.
Obama's awkward encounter with Akihito — bows are not meant to accompany physical contact — is not even the first time the president, a Democrat in office less than a year, has been criticized for his greeting of a foreign leader: Critics accused him of genuflecting to Saudi King Abdullah at a world economic summit this year.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters Monday that the bow was "a sign of respect to the emperor."
In an online State Department posting from 2007 titled "Protocol for the Modern Diplomat," envoys are advised to be aware of greeting rituals such as kisses, handshakes or bows and to follow a country's tradition. "Failure to abide with tradition may be interpreted as rudeness or a lack of respect for colleagues," it says. It was not clear whether the guidelines apply to the president.
I'm going to take a wild guess here and say liberals criticized Bush in 2005 while conservatives were mostly silent. And with Clinton in 1994, conservatives were outraged while libs wanted to know what the big deal was.
Maybe our leaders should just give everyone a good ol' All-American high five and call it good.