Protocol

ObamaAkihitoThe picture at the right has created something of a kerfuffle in the blogosphere. It captures President Barack Obama being introducted to Japanese Emperor Akihito and bowing profoundly. Scott Johnson is overly exercised:

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.

Kathy Kattenburg is flat out wrong:

Once again, Barack Obama has demonstrated his appalling hatred for America, and his elitism, and his arrogance, and his tearing down and bashing of his country and his predecessor’s foreign policies, by greeting Japan’s prime minister with a deep bow in a culturally appropriate way.

This was definitely not “culturally appropriate” and was definitely a breach of protocol.

In Japan bows are culturally appropriate, the rough equivalent of a handshake. However, the depth of the bow is carefully calibrated, reflecting the status and stations of the two parties, and President Obama’s bow is far too deep. Rather than appearing cultural appropriate I suspect that to most Japanese he would merely look clumsy.

I was in the process of collecting a sampler of picture to demonstrate that it was, in fact, a breach of protocol but I quickly found that HotAirPundit had beaten me to it. Browse on over and you can see Vladimir Putin, Manmohan Singh, and other world leaders greeting the emperor appropriately. I’ll contibute this picture:

YukioHatoyamaAkihito

I believe this represents Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama greeting the emperor, possibly presenting his credentials. Should the president of the United States bow more profoundly than the prime minister of Japan to the Japanese emperor?

My reaction to this is much what it was to other, previous goofs: I think the president is being very poorly served by his advisors. He needs a protocol advisor that he’ll pay attention to and who has the courage to tell him what to do and what not to do in order to avoid looking foolish. In this case he looked foolish.

In the final analysis this is a very minor matter. The Japanese are forgiving people and I have little doubt that they’ll be polite enough to overlook the clumsiness of President Obama’s attempt at cultural sensitivity. I doubt that most Americans really care.

I’m a Democrat but, as I’ve said before, I’m a republican (note the small “r”), too, and it nettles me to see the president of the United States making obeisances to foreign royalty. But it’s not the end of the world and I doubt that it means much more than that President Obama is trying to do the right thing but doesn’t know what the right thing is.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Triumph says:

    This disgusting. The fact that Hussein is cavorting with so-called Emperors reflects that he is on his own radical authoritarian power-trip.

    The fact that he was born in Suharto’s dictatorial Indonesia and is a fan of Hiter-esque policies shows that Hussein likes the Emperor schtick.

    The exceptional bow was an effort to send the message to Akihito that he harbored admiration for Japanese imperialism–in particular WW2 Emperor Hirohito’s fascism.

    Remember, he also declined an invitation on this trip to visit Hiroshima–the site of the US military’s greatest triumph. His know-towing to the Emperor and his refusal to go to Hiroshima are his ways of saying that he regrets US animosity towards Japan during the War and that he wants to restore the dictatorial fascism that Obama Hitler, and Akihito all represent.

  2. Snarfster says:

    Come on isn’t time everyone take a deep breath and reflect on trying to stop being pathetic morons about all things Obama.

    Just like with Clinton no matter what he does you clowns just carp and bitch about it. Old joke goes if Clinton walked across water you’d complain he couldn’t swim.

    If you’d bother to look closely at the pics given Obamas height he only bows to approx. 45 degrees and is completely appropiate. Maybe if you’d travel a bit and quit thinking the sun rises and sets on the US these things wouldn’t scare you.

  3. Boyd says:

    …President Obama is trying to do the right thing but doesn’t know what the right thing is.

    At the risk of sounding snarky (and that’s not my intent), I think that covers a lot of Mr Obama’s presidency.

  4. Clovis says:

    If you’d bother to look closely at the pics given Obamas height he only bows to approx. 45 degrees and is completely appropiate.

    Nah. The plate in his vest is at about 45, he is at about 35. Difficult to judge, of course, because he’s sticking his butt out for balance and the photo is angled itself.

    Even if it were 45 it would still be inappropriate. After the Abdullah kerfluffle this does look like willful ignorance of protocol.

    Not a huge deal, I suppose; just needlessly dumb.

  5. odograph says:

    You guys should make it harder for me to predict, with a glance at memeorandum, what will be OTB’s meat for the day.

  6. odograph says:

    (Obama probably was overreacting as a tall person presented with a small one.)

  7. odograph says:

    ((even with the bend he’s almost the taller))

  8. Snarfster says:

    Remember, he also declined an invitation on this trip to visit Hiroshima–the site of the US military’s greatest triumph.

    Humm weird history books you study. No triumph or honor in bombing large civilian (100,000+ dead) populations.

    Kinda ironic that we’re so worried about everyone else having nukes when the US not once but twice used them on civilian populations becoming the only country ever to use them in war.

    So from your logic the attack on 911 was a military victory too?

  9. I miss the days when we had experienced old hands like George H.W. Bush in charge. The Japanese people must look back with some nostalgia on those days.

  10. Herb says:

    “In the final analysis this is a very minor matter.”

    You said it, not me!

    Which is kind of funny why you’re writing about it. What, you’re still working on that post about KSM’s impending trial but thought you’d get this “bowing too low” thing out of the way first?

    When’s James coming back?

  11. odograph says:

    Here’s somebody else’s idea of Sunday reading. That’s a piece that could yield a little more OTB introspection.

  12. Triumph says:

    I am no fan of Hussein, but isn’t the REAL transgression here the fact that the Emperor’s girlfriend showed up wearing her pajamas to meet the President?

    She probably thought that since Hussein is a Clinton-style Dummocrat that she was dressed appropriately to engage in some US-Japan “bilateral negotiations” like she enjoyed with Slick Willie (if you catch my drift…)

  13. Eric Florack says:

    Does anyone recall the New York Times had a hissy fit because Billy Clinton ALMOST bowed to Akihto? Where’s the outrage about this from Obama?

    And look, there’s more to this pattern too. As I said at my own place yesterday:

    Those of you with memories that last longer than the 30 seconds of the average Obama supporter, will recall this little incident of a few months ago, where he bowed to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.

    Now, at the time there were many on the left, including White House staffers, who opined that the President had just messed up on protocol. After all, there is a long-standing tradition of now bowing to refusing to bow to ANY foreign Monarch. After all, hes new, they said at the time… and he can’t know everything. I suggested it was an intentional sign of subservience… that he knew very well what he was doing, and what he was saying by that action.

    He later visited with the Queen of England, to whom he did not bow, and who got herself a pat on the back from Mrs Obama… well out of protocol. I suspected at the time that this was intended as a slap in the face of our long time ally and said so.

    The pattern is now more fully recognizable with the incident Dave points to here. There’s a very specific message being sent here, by whom he bows to and who he does not. THe message, the pattern has much to do with the left and it’s view of the United States and its place in the world. A view, to which Mr. Obama clearly subscribes. I submit once again that Mr. Obama knows precisely what he’s doing , and the messages that he is sending.

    Oh… and lest we forget… this subserviant bowing nonsense from the one who won’t put his hand over his heart for the National Anthem…. another piece to the puzzle. That, too, is s ign of respect… and furthers the pattern of what Obama shows respect for and what he does not.

  14. Triumph says:

    Humm weird history books you study. No triumph or honor in bombing large civilian (100,000+ dead) populations.

    Uhh…I don’t know what hippie peace-nik, Jane Fonda planet you live on, but the purpose of the military is to DEFEAT EVIL DECISIVELY.

    Since those bastards invaded us, they should have been prepared to deal with the consequences.

    Hussein, of course, has weakened our military significantly–as the events at Ft. Hood demonstrate. He is not only surrendering in Iraq, but he is actually propping up the Taliban in Aghanistan through his incompetence.

    Hiroshima represents–for patriots–the apex of US power. Hussein’s rejection of our strength is in keeping with his desire to make the US weak.

    Better start practicing your Kenyan, because by the time this guy is done with his term this country is going to be effectively run by the Kenyan dictator Adewale Ogunleye and Obama is going to build himself a big Emperor Jones-type palace to retire off his plunder.

  15. Snarfster says:

    Hiroshima represents–for patriots–the apex of US power.

    So you imply that anyone who doesn’t buy into your warped understanding of history is a hippie and unpatriotic. Bet your momma is sure proud she got you through the 6th grade.

    Now run on back to FOX and listen to some more revisionist history.

    And since your hanging out here today with the big kids we’ll have to assume your village is missing it’s idiot.

  16. Snarf:

    I hate to ruin Triumph’s fun but compassion compels me to tell you that Triumph is just goofing on you. He’s doing satire.

    Don’t feel bad, we’ve all fallen for it at one time or another.

  17. Davebo says:

    I’m a Democrat but, as I’ve said before, I’m a republican (note the small “r”), too,

    Well, this could explain this idiocy I suppose.

    Frankly, it’s a better excuse than James could muster.

  18. mannning says:

    ALL PRAISE FOR OBAMA THE BOWMEISTER

  19. anjin-san says:

    Not a huge deal, I suppose; just needlessly dumb

    Well, I will take a needlessly dumb bow over a needlessly dumb war (iraq) any day.

  20. Too bad the Emperor hadn’t just finished watching Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee so he could have cuffed him on top of his head and reminded him to never take his eyes off his opponent, even when bowing.

    I’ve done some work in Japan and I’ll just note that this bow is far too deep. A bow this deep would be reserved for someone well above your station, and it seems strange that an American president, usually considered to be the most powerful man in the world, would bow so low to a figurehead emperor. But is is just a protocol error and its silly to read too much more into it. The only thing it reveals is that President Obama isn’t nearly as sophisticated about the world as his minions seem to believe he is.

  21. anjin-san says:

    Those of you with memories that last longer than the 30 seconds of the average Obama supporter, will recall this little incident of a few months ago, where he bowed to King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud.

    To be honest, I am not thrilled about the bowing, I don’t think the President should bow unless it is an exchange of equal bows between heads of state.

    That being said, I find the bows a whole lot less creepy that Bushs’ hand holding and kissing of Saudi leaders.

  22. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I don’t want the President of the United States of America bowing to anyone. We don’ as a people or a nation. Our leader should represent that. I guess this leader spent a little too much time in church, with Pastor Wright.

  23. An Interested Party says:

    The pattern is now more fully recognizable with the incident Dave points to here. There’s a very specific message being sent here, by whom he bows to and who he does not. THe message, the pattern has much to do with the left and it’s view of the United States and its place in the world. A view, to which Mr. Obama clearly subscribes. I submit once again that Mr. Obama knows precisely what he’s doing , and the messages that he is sending.

    Oh… and lest we forget… this subserviant bowing nonsense from the one who won’t put his hand over his heart for the National Anthem…. another piece to the puzzle. That, too, is s ign of respect… and furthers the pattern of what Obama shows respect for and what he does not.

    Oh my gosh! The puzzle has been solved! He really is a subversive in thrall to foreign powers! Begin the impeachment proceedings immediately!

    If this is the kind of thing that gets the president’s political enemies hot and bothered, he should have no problem cruising to reelection…

  24. anjin-san says:

    Well, AIP, we need to keep in mind that folks like Rags & Bithead think Palin is brilliant 🙂

  25. anjin-san says:
  26. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anjin the unwise, I do not think Palin would bow to a foreign leader. Maybe Obama has weak abs and when confronted with real authority suffers an abdominal collapse. That or he is just a community organizer working far above his ability.

  27. An Interested Party says:

    …I do not think Palin would bow to a foreign leader.

    Well, considering the fact that she will never, ever become president, that hardly matters…

  28. anjin-san says:

    I do not think Palin would bow to a foreign leader.

    Probably not. She would spout a lot of garbage, offend anyone with an IQ over 80, start a war, and get a lot of people killed.

    Choose your poison…

  29. Eric Florack says:

    That being said, I find the bows a whole lot less creepy that Bushs’ hand holding and kissing of Saudi leaders.

    From a western perspective I suppose I can understand that. What you have to understand, however, is that the act from an Arabic perspective was the active a peer. Not a subordinate.

    Probably not. She would spout a lot of garbage, offend anyone with an IQ over 80, start a war, and get a lot of people killed.

    Oh, look, the left has a big bad conservative Meanie to blame everything on, already.

    Well, AIP, we need to keep in mind that folks like Rags & Bithead think Palin is brilliant 🙂

    Add to all Obama, you are brilliant. That oughta give you a clue.

  30. Eric Florack says:

    If this is the kind of thing that gets the president’s political enemies hot and bothered, he should have no problem cruising to reelection…

    AIP… Do the American people want to send the message to the rest of the world that they are subservient to the rest of the world? My guess is they do not and will so vote at the next opportunity.

  31. anjin-san says:

    Oh, look, the left has a big bad conservative Meanie to blame everything on

    Where in my statement did I blame anything on Palin?

    Add to all Obama, you are brilliant. That oughta give you a clue.

    Gibbrish anyone?

  32. anjin-san says:

    From a western perspective I suppose I can understand that. What you have to understand, however, is that the act from an Arabic perspective was the active a peer. Not a subordinate.

    I see. And I suppose from a German prospective, heads of state should give each other shoulder rubs at diplomatic function…

  33. anjin-san says:

    My guess is they do not and will so vote at the next opportunity.

    I remember you guess two days before the election that McCain was headed for an upset win of historic proportions that would lead to rioting in Grant Park on election night…

  34. Eric Florack says:

    I remember….

    Keep whistling till you get past that gravewyard. I mean, you HAVE seen the polling data, right?

  35. Maggie Mama says:

    President Obama is trying to do the right thing but doesn’t know what the right thing is.

    That may be true, however, that is exactly why according to the State Department website:

    “The State Department first appointed a full-time protocol officer in 1916 and established the Office of the Chief of Protocol on February 4, 1928. In 1946, the President commissioned the State Department’s Chief of Protocol to also carry the title “Chief of Protocol of the White House.” Since 1961, the Chief of Protocol has been commissioned an Ambassador, requiring the President’s nominee to be confirmed by the Senate.”

    Chief of Protocol, deputy chief, et al, don’t tell me someone didn’t carefully explain the subtle art of bowing according to Japanese custom.

    Obama’s bow indicates HE IS SUBSERVIENT TO THE EMPEROR.

  36. odograph says:

    Well gosh, if we are idiot wingers we can expect orders from our Emperor any day now, right?

    I for one welcome our new Japanese overlords.

  37. odograph says:

    If OTB is looking for more than fluff to agitate the mentally ill, try this:

    Of Course, Treasury Wants To Hang on to TARP Money

    It will no doubt agitate them as well, but it has the advantage of being actually important to our free markets and/or democracy.

  38. sam says:

    Obama’s bow indicates HE IS SUBSERVIENT TO THE EMPEROR.

    Next up, the pattern of Obama’s tie proves he is [consult WorldNetDaily for wingnutism du jour].

  39. sam says:

    @Bithead

    Keep whistling till you get past that gravewyard.

    Has anyone ever seen Bit and Elmer Fudd together?

  40. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    We have a picture of the President of the United States bowing to people his predecessor’s agent received the instrument of surrender from aboard the Battleship Missouri, thus ending the most destructive war, started by the Japanese (remember the rape of Nanjing) in history. People like Anjin were given what passed for education at the time, indoctrinating them into thinking the US was at fault. Our schools need to be purged of communists.

  41. sam says:

    Here we have a picture of the President of the United States giving a back rub to the leader of a people his predecessor’s agent received the instrument of surrender from in Rheims, France on May 7, 1945, thus ending the most destructive war, started by Germany (remember, well, you know what to remember) in history.

  42. anjin-san says:

    People like Anjin were given what passed for education at the time

    If you are interested in discussing history, as opposed to frothy ranting, you might want to check out “The Rising Sun” by John Toland. After you finish that I can recommend a little more reading that will get you up to the level I was at, say at age 15.

  43. odograph says:

    I am becoming increasingly convinced that the OTB contributors are just “mailin’ it in,” just throwing the easy trolls in what is probably a traffic building exercise.

    First the bow, then Sarah Palin … the most important topics in our democracy, or just easy pulls?

  44. Our Paul says:

    ATTENTION ALL STATIONS dot dot dash TO ALL SHIPS AT SEA dot dash dot HOLD THE PRESS, dot dot dot…

    Dave Schuler, better know as the Big D Small r joins right wing pin brain brigade in igniting the blogosphere over the AP photograph of Obama bowing while shaking hands with the Emperor of Japan. Chest thumpers are incensed that the leader of the most powerful nation of the world (about 800 known overseas military bases) hit 45 degrees in his bow. Consensus is that by showing deference to a foreign culture President Obama has weakened the United States position as the biggest, meanest fu**ing country in the world.

    FLASH dash dash dot

    Big D small r nails it, with no equivocation, to wit:

    This was definitely not “culturally appropriate” and was definitely a breach of protocol.

    The proof is one photograph he presents, and others at HotAirPundit. Different camera angles, different parts in the sequence of the handshake and bow? Of no consequence… The shame of it all!

    ATTENTION ALL STATIONS dot dot dash TO ALL SHIPS AT SEA dot dash

    Good news to all, and our eternal gratitude to the pin brained Obamaphobes. Issues of the yen vs the dollar, American troops based on Okinawa, other concerns between the bi-lateral relationship between US and Japan no longer are important. The horror of the bow has become the issue of the day…

  45. Boyd says:

    I’m just so glad that so many of you folks, from all sides of the discussion, are so smart that you have to keep telling us how smart you are, lest we forget.

    You know it’s bad when a Texan starts bitching about others’ lack of humility.

  46. mannning says:

    When looking for signs and portents of a deranged and dangerous mind, it is sometimes the most trivial of acts that give the show away. This was one of them.

    All hail, Obama the Bowmeister!

  47. Brett says:

    Oh, for the love of god – so what? He bowed too deep to a powerless figure of state? It’s not like he got on his knees and touched his forehead to the floor in front of them, or in front of a leader with actual power.

    The only thing it reveals is that President Obama isn’t nearly as sophisticated about the world as his minions seem to believe he is.

    It’s more likely that he has some incompetents in his protocol office. Remember the idiotic gift-basket of non-working DVDs that he gave to Gordon Brown when he came on a state visit?

    I am no fan of Hussein, but isn’t the REAL transgression here the fact that the Emperor’s girlfriend showed up wearing her pajamas to meet the President?

    It’s called a “kimono”, and it actually constitutes formal wear (albeit old-fashioned) for women.

  48. Triumph says:

    It’s not like he got on his knees and touched his forehead to the floor in front of them, or in front of a leader with actual power.

    Yes, we have Larry Craig to do that.

  49. Eric Florack says:

    First the bow, then Sarah Palin … the most important topics in our democracy, or just easy pulls?

    It’s called “Current events”, or if you like, “being topical”.

  50. Steve Verdon says:

    Dave Schuler, better know as the Big D Small r joins right wing pin brain brigade in igniting the blogosphere over the AP photograph of Obama bowing while shaking hands with the Emperor of Japan. Chest thumpers are incensed that the leader of the most powerful nation of the world (about 800 known overseas military bases) hit 45 degrees in his bow. Consensus is that by showing deference to a foreign culture President Obama has weakened the United States position as the biggest, meanest fu**ing country in the world.

    Jesus….

    Wait…you are Obama’s protocol advisor, aren’t you?

    Of course bowing is totally appropriate. It is how greetings are done in Japan. Much like how Westerners shake hands.

    Still, if a person wiped his hand after shaking yours would you be offended? Would you think the other person a buffoon? The bow above is too deep, his posture stinks, and looks like he is about to fall over. FYI, from my understanding the Japanese press is going with the President’s bow to the emperor’s wife which was done correctly. Which is nice, they don’t want to show one of their more important allies’ leaders as looking foolish.

    So the right is wrong, this does not signify that the U.S. is bowing to other cultures or that we are weak. But so are you Paul, but you are to arrogant and blinded by your own percieved brilliance to realize your mistake.

  51. Our Paul says:

    Apparently brother Steve Verdon was a tad bit upset by my modest post, to wit:

    So the right is wrong, this does not signify that the U.S. is bowing to other cultures or that we are weak. But so are you Paul, but you are to arrogant and blinded by your own percieved brilliance to realize your mistake.

    There are few choices to the Center Right tom foolery about a single photograph of Obama’s greeting to the Emperor of Japan. One is to ignore it. A more tantalizing possibility is to tickle your fun bone while pointing to absurdity of the created Obamaphobe crescendo.

    My post represented about 36 hours of thought, rough drafts, and revision. I particularly enjoyed the phrasing of right wing pin brain brigade, and of course chest thumpers. Whether it was these two lovely’s or the more aggressive the United States position as the biggest, meanest fu**ing country in the world that raised Verdon’s ire who knows. On second thought, the Shadow knows…

    Psst 1#: I happen to be an admirer of Dave Schuler’s writing and thinking. It is rare that he affords this humble scribe the opportunity to have some fun, and I apologize if he feels aggrieved…

    Psst 2#: As for Steve Verdon, in this day of technology only the arrogant and those blinded by their brilliance would fail to put their post through a spell checker…

  52. Psst 1#: I happen to be an admirer of Dave Schuler’s writing and thinking. It is rare that he affords this humble scribe the opportunity to have some fun, and I apologize if he feels aggrieved…

    My sentiments exactly. It’s not often one gets the chance to bust Schuler’s balls. So when the opportunity arises . . .

  53. Maggie Mama says:

    Obama’s bow indicates HE IS SUBSERVIENT TO THE EMPEROR.

    Next up, the pattern of Obama’s tie proves he is [consult WorldNetDaily for wingnutism du jour].

    That’s OK, Sam, snark, snark, snark.

    The fact of the matter is that Obama is still my president, too, and represents my country before the world. For the bloody record, I don’t want him bowing down before the Emperor of Japan. But then, that’s just me.