Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Nov. 17, 2009 / 30 Mar-Cheshvan 5770

How Low Can He Go?

By Mona Charen




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | President Obama, who nearly prostrated himself before the king of Saudi Arabia last April, has once again bowed low to a monarch — this time to the emperor of Japan.


What to make of this obsequious body language?


After the presidential frame went perpendicular before the Saudi royal, the White House at first denied that the president had bowed. He was merely leaning over, Robert Gibbs explained, because the president was "taller than the king." That might make sense — to anyone who had not seen the video. President Obama bent so far over that he was at eye level with the king's hips.


The president's defenders suggested that he was merely being polite, or simply following protocol. Politeness consists in treating others with respect and taking care not to hurt their feelings. But a bow, well, that's a different matter.


Last week, the president did it again, bowing from the waist before Japan's Emperor Akihito. So what might have seemed a rookie mistake is now looking deliberate.


Protocol is not the explanation. While there have been exceptions, American presidents have not traditionally bowed to royalty. Nor have American diplomats or citizens of any stripe. Kings and queens of England have visited America and been quite satisfied to receive a dignified handshake from Americans high and low. President Roosevelt famously served Great Britain's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth hot dogs at his Hyde Park home.


When it comes to body language, it's best to stick to your own culture and traditions. A too-eager attempt to ingratiate by adopting others' customs can backfire. According to one Asian expert consulted by ABC's Jake Tapper, Obama's low bow caused considerable consternation in Japan. Apparently, a proper Japanese bow under the circumstances would have been executed with hands at the sides, and a slight tilt from the waist. "The bow as he performed it 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."


President Obama makes much of his international pedigree, the latest iteration being the boast that he is the "first Pacific president" — whatever that means. But when he stoops to royalty this way, he invites the question: How American does he feel?


Don't hyperventilate. Of course, there is no one way for Americans to think or feel. But some American attitudes are, or used to be, woven deeply into our character. Most Americans have a visceral distaste, dating back to our founding, for truckling to royalty. Article One, Section 9 of the Constitution states: "No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: — And no person holding any office of profit or trust under them shall, without the consent of Congress, accept any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state." Kings and emperors have been treated with courtesy, of course, but to bow is — yes, I'll say it — un-American.


Here, let the New York Times explain it. In 1994, the Times gently rebuked President Clinton for "almost" bowing to the Japanese emperor. "It wasn't a bow, exactly," the editorial chided, "(b)ut Mr. Clinton came close. He inclined his head and shoulders forward, he pressed his hands together. It lasted no longer than a snapshot, but the image on the South Lawn was indelible: an obsequent President, and the Emperor of Japan. Canadians still bow to England's Queen; so do Australians. Americans shake hands. If not to stand eye-to-eye with royalty, what else were 1776 and all that about?"


President Obama's bows, coupled with his global apology tours, suggest something other than politeness. President Obama has repeatedly reminded us that he thinks we have been arrogant and high-handed in our dealings with other nations. By bowing and scraping, he intends to drop us down a peg or two. The president of the United States really did intend to show obeisance to the King of Saudi Arabia and to defer to the emperor of Japan. He appears to have done so not to flatter those nations but only to diminish his own.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


Comment on JWR contributor Mona Charen's column by clicking here.

Mona Charen Archives

© 2006, Creators Syndicate

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles