One of President Obama’s major campaign promises was to improve the United States reputation abroad. I wonder if he meant that he was going to make America the butt of the World’s Jokes.
Yesterday the POTUS had another Protocol faux pas by bowing down to Japanese Emperor Akihito, the second time he bowed down to a world leader (King Fahd of Saudi Arabia was the first).
Jake Tapper of ABC reports talking to a Japan expert who says that Obama’s boy made him look ridiculous to the Japanese:
“Kyodo News is running his appropriate and reciprocated nod and shake with the Empress, certainly to show the president as dignified, and not in the form of a first year English teacher trying to impress with Karate Kid-level knowledge of Japanese customs.
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“The bow as he performed did not just display weakness in Red State terms, but evoked weakness in Japanese terms….The last thing the Japanese want or need is a weak looking American president and, again, in all ways, he unintentionally played that part.
By subordinating himself to other world leaders the President has damaged the prestige of the office he holds and of the country. The press in other countries are now running stories with headlines calling him the Groveler-in Chief:
President Obama has been branded the ‘Groveller-in-Chief’ after giving an exaggerated bow to Japan’s emperor Akihito – the son of the ruler who authorised the
1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
Coming so soon after Remembrance Day, the deep bow caused an outcry in the U.S.
While it was seen as a sign of respect in Japan, Mr Obama was attacked in America for ‘bowing and scraping’ to a foreign leader, particularly a Japanese one. Wartime scars are still raw for many Americans.
U.S. President Barack Obama makes a ‘grovelling’ bow to Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko as he arrives at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo
The 6ft 2in President’s mark of deference to the 5ft 5in emperor in Japan on Saturday dominated discussion in the U.S. media about the trip.
One post by a reader on the Los Angeles Times website read: ‘The Groveller-in-Chief strikes again.’
Another said: ‘Will this man ever stop bowing and scraping to foreign leaders?’
White House aides said Mr Obama had been simply following protocol.
However, critics pointed to Michelle Obama patting the Queen on the back during their
Buckingham Palace visit as an example of the First Couple’s usual casual attitude towards protocol.
Two years ago the then Vice President, Dick Cheney, greeted the emperor at the same royal palace with a simple handshake.
In 1994, when President Clinton appeared to almost bow to the Japanese royal, U.S. officials rushed to claim it was nothing of the sort.
American leaders are not supposed to show any sign of deference to a foreign power.
It is not the first time Mr Obama has been caught up in a bowing row. He appeared to bow before the king of Saudi Arabia at the G20 Summit in London in April, but aides denied it, saying the President nodded his head only because ‘he’s taller than King Abdullah’.
Emperor Akihito assumed the title in 1989 following the death of his father, Hirohito, who had presided over Japan’s military growth and its alliance with Nazi Germany.
Hirohito authorised the bombing of the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor, killing more than 2,000 and bringing about America’s entry into the Second World War.
The bowing controversy threatened to overshadow key developments arising from the President’s five-day Asian tour.
On Sunday, Mr Obama was among a group of world leaders at a summit in Singapore who dashed hopes of a climate deal at next month’s climate conference in Copenhagen.
The best the President and other world leaders could come up with on climate change was a vow to work towards ‘an ambitious outcome’ in Copenhagen.
They agreed it would not be possible to reach an agreement in time for the much-vaunted UN conference.
Copenhagen has been seen as the last chance for countries to put in place tough measures needed to fight a rise in temperatures and cut greenhouse gasses.
Mr Obama, who arrived in China on Sunday night, also urged Burma to release pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who has spent 14 years in detention.
And he warned that Iran was ‘running out of time’ to engage in diplomacy over its nuclear programme.