Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


So there is a whole lot of phony outrage over President Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan. The outrage is calculated to play in Ohio and Michigan who unfairly blame the woes of the American manufacturing sector, particularly auto manufacturing, on the Japanese (rather than the incompetence of the American managers, who deserve the blame).

This is not the first time Obama's approach to royalty has come under scrutiny. For deference to the Saudi King, he is berated by conservatives (who try to forget the total abject toadying of the Bush family for the past 40 years). Same thing for Michelle Obama's embrace of the Queen, regarded as an affront to the British because... wait for it... it was not deferential enough. Bottom line, there is nothing Obama can do that will not be criticized by the right-wing press. Best to ignore them and concentrate on any audience that matters. In this case, the audience was the people of Japan. For them, bowing to the Emperor is like standing at attention when the US Flag is saluted. This was regarded as entirely appropriate by them, and as a sign of respect for Japan only. The interpretation of the bow as some sort of subservience to royalty is simply off the mark. It is noteworthy that the only context where an American ought to be observe some symbolic lack of deference to monarchy - with our former monarchs in Britain - the President played it correctly.

Moreover, the bow tothe Japanese Emperor was a magnanimous gesture because everyone knows that Barack Obama is - by far - the more popular and more powerful of the two leaders. He is the nobel prize winner for peace unlike, er, the present Emperor's father. Also, Obama's relative height meant that any less of a bow would not actually lower his head below the Emperor's, which was kind of the point of the gesture. The trick was to make the bow respectful, not mocking or clumsy. That was well done. Anything else would have been a bit insulting, really. By contrast, Dick Cheney's "firm handshake" in 2007 is indicative rather of Cheney's lower standing in the world and his own insecurity. It is also very clear from the facial expressions of the Emperor and Empress that they were absolutely delighted, an image seen all over Japan. Isn't that the whole purpose of meeting these figureheads in the first place?

So, congratulations to the protocol folks at the State Department for getting it exactly right. A symbolic gesture of respect to the Japanese people through a bow to their Emperor, genuine respect to the Chinese by engaging Hu as if it were a superpower summit. By the way, the London Times heartily approved in an article very much worth reading. Note that the conservative Times also approved of the embrace between the Queen and the First Lady at the time, noting with a sort of hushed awe that the Queen embraced Michelle back.


Raised By Republicans said...

The Republicans are obsessed with symbols because their policies are such obvious failures.

Bert Q. Slushbrow, Sr. said...

In my part of Ohio (that being a small area the size of my house) he scored points for savy display of protocol and diplomacy.

The people who hate him will hate him regardless.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I am very pleased with how Obama has conducted his diplomatic efforts so far. As you say, LTG, he played it well with the Queen of England, the Emperor of Japan, and the President of China. When the conservatives are reduced to picking over the minutiae Obama's non-verbal gestures, it is clear they have nothing of substance to say.

As I have mentioned elsewhere, if the worst you can say about Obama's diplomatic full court press is that he won the Nobel Peace Prize too early, I think we have a great President on our hands.

Anonymous said...

I think the reason we get these comments is because Obama is so diplomatically pitch-perfect compared to the last set of bumbling idiots.

If there are any Japan-watchers reading, does the Empress' kimono color mean anything? It looks kind of bright for an older lady, but also not overly fancy.

-Seventh Sister

The Law Talking Guy said...

Maybe he should have just thrown up on the Emperor. That appears to be the GOP's preferred method of greeting Japanese dignitaries.

Raised By Republicans said...

Barfing is so Bush the elder. Today's Republican wanted him to cop a feel with the Empress.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I suspect that the kimono color was meant to coordinate with Michelle Obama, whose fashion sense the empress likely approves of.