There's very little controversy over this one, as far as I'm concerned. I look at the video, and it's fairly obvious that Obama takes the Saudi king's hand and bows as he shakes it. He's trying to be a diplomat (and, judging by the results, succeeding), and he greets the Saudi king with respect. My question, of course, is "what's wrong with that?"
Well, first off, the Moonie Times had a slavering, bit-chewing editorial that read:
Barack takes a bowNow, if you think about it, it makes sense that Obama would be polite to King Abdullah. I mean, the part of our economy that Bush didn’t sell to the Chinese, he sold to the Saudis. Obama probably didn’t want to be rude to our new landlord.
In a shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate, President Obama bowed to Saudi King Abdullah at the Group of 20 summit in London last week.
Mr. Obama later said in Strasbourg, France, "We have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect." Symbolism is important in world affairs. By bending over to show greater respect to Islam, the U.S. president belittled the power and independence of the United States.
The bow was an extraordinary protocol violation. Such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer. There is no precedent for U.S. presidents bowing to Saudi or any other royals. Former President Franklin D. Roosevelt shook hands with Saudi King Abdulaziz in February 1945. Granted, Mr. Roosevelt was wheelchair-bound, but former President Dwight D. Eisenhower shook hands when he first met King Saud in January 1957. Mr. Obama's bow to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques does not help his image with those who believe he is secretly a Muslim, and why he chose to bow only to the Saudi King and not to any other royals remains unexplained.
But really, I don't see a bow as showing fealty. It's a bow, f'Christ's sake! He bent at the waist. He didn't go to one knee, or kiss the man's ring or anything. I mean, after eight years of the Cowboy President talking with his mouth full and groping the German Chancellor, I realize that diplomacy and politeness have fallen by the wayside, but what does it hurt to make the man feel good about himself. It doesn't mean you have to fellate him, or even give him a damned thing that he wants. Hell, we're already throwing millions into alternate energy research, which, if it works, will cut the Saudi income enormously. Why shouldn't we talk nice to the man?
This whole situation was made worse when the White House spokesperson, , Robert Gibbs, back in America, apparently not up on the situation and not having a planned answer, tried to say that it wasn't a bow. The unhinged wingnuts jumped all over that as evidence that "and now Obama is lying about what he did!"
(Here's a clue, guys. Yeah, I'd say that Gibbs lied, in that he really didn't know what happened and just denied it in a knee-jerk "assume the best" reaction. But here's how you tell them apart: Obama is the slim black man; Gibbs is the puffy white guy. They aren't linked at the hip.)
But the right wing doesn't want to see it that way. Their end of the blogosphere was awash with people screaming things like "I don’t know bout you, but when did we bow to ANYONE. I’m a free man that will stand on my two feet until someone cuts them off or breaks them. What an embarrassment to us!" (You can practically see the spittle flying off the screen. I'm surprised he didn't type that in all-caps, or in red or something.)
One popular subset of these rants tried to link Obama's bow to King Abdullah with the long-debunked rumor that Obama's college tuition was paid for by a Saudi prince.
So I felt I should engage some of these hydrocephalic lunatics, and see if I could interject a little reality in their screeds. (As you can probably guess, for the most part, I failed.)
Rather than one extended sermon, which they wouldn't read anyway, I broke my concepts into bite-sized chunks for easy reading. I had three basic templates, which I'd cut-and-paste, then tailor to fit the individual blog. The first one was relatively simple:
Give me a break.If (ok, when) they'd argue, it was usually with something to the effect that "I replied with this:
Bush kisses King Abdullah, and then walks hand-in-hand with him through the flowers. Bush showed more obeisance to the King than any previous President ever did. This is just unhinged wingnuts trying to manufacture outrage again.
If you want to check out Abdullah's obedient vassal, go here.
Bowing always means exactly the same in every culture. Unless it doesn't.And finally, in a particularly useful response if I'm accused of being something horrific like a "leftist," I had the following:
"Bowing to other human beings is frowned upon in Muslim cultures as all human beings are considered equal and bowing is only supposed to be done to God in Islam."
Oh, my God!!! Obama was insulting the King!
Wasn't it Freud that said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar"? Maybe Obama was just bowing in an attempt to be polite.
Because it's not like he looked like he was being somebody's bitch or anything.
Let's see what Fox News has to say about this.That last one was especially useful in answering the one guy who informed me that he wasn't impressed by the "lefty media" I provided. (Youtube is "leftist"? Who knew?)
But protocol experts told FOX News that no rule exists on presidents bowing.
"To my knowledge, there is no rule at all," said Lloyd Hand who was chief of protocol for President Lyndon Johnson. "Protocol is 95 percent common sense judgment and 5 percent specific rules and that has nothing to do with bowing."
Hand said he doesn't believe Obama's stoop qualifies as a bow.
"American protocol favors the extension of warm gracious hospitality and I put what he did in that context," he said.
But, hey, you keep right on trying to make something important out of a small gesture of diplomatic civility.
(In case you're curious, the other conversations not mentioned elsewhere in this post can be found here, here, here and here.)
The reaction was mixed of course. Some of them tried to argue; some just sat in sullen silence. My favorite, though, was actually a blog that refused to print my response. This one had the fascinating blog title of "Loose Lips." Not real loose, though: only four posts in the last year; this guy makes my posting rate look prolific. He was so off the rails that I would have thought it was a joke if I'd come across it without having read the rest of these screeds.
This one is for all you people who are convinced that our president is Black...(and he's not).Let's ignore little facts like, well, Barack Obama is rather noticeably black, and, as I pointed out, it's actually considered rude to bow to a Muslim. We'll also ignore the blatant misrepresentations of what he said, the misspellings and the fascinating punctuation style. I think that the best part of this post was the title, something I pointed out to him in my ignored response. His brilliant title, unchanged as of this writing:
President Obama is caught bowing to the Saudi King during a visit to Saudia Arabia. Fist off, the visit was kept secret, then when it was discovered, it was covered up by saying it's purpose was soley to visit the troops. Then why is he visiting with the king?
Secondly, a bow in Saudia Arabia is done only from persons of lesser status, or not worthy of the king...so why is Obama bowing? He is president of the United States..that is comparable to King of Saudia Arabia...He shouldn't be bowing...but in Muslim beliefs, it is disrespectful to not bow to a king or noble.
And you thought you voted a black president...Americans got caught up in color and not facts...we voted in a Muslim...
He swore in on the Quran for gosh sakes..and he is supposted to be this devout chrisian...explain that!
And now he's bowing to Saudi Kings, promising middle eastern countries that we will never be at war with them and bashing America and our government during the visit to Great Britian...America, What have we done?
Obama Finally admits to his Muslin HeritageWhich also explains why this guy thinks our president isn't black. Apparently, Obama's father wasn't Kenyan; he was a piece of cloth.