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No American President Ever Bowed to a Foreign Leader — Until Now











No American President Ever Bowed to a Foreign Leader — Until Now






By: Daniel Ruddy

<img src="http://i200.photobucket.com/albums/aa179/segite/1st%20PLACE/A...">








President Obama created a new presidential precedent when he bowed to the Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko Saturday.



No president of the United States in the more than 230 years since the country was founded in 1776 had ever bowed to a member of royalty. That was until Barack Obama’s presidency.



In April, President Obama bowed to the Saudi king during the G-20 meeting. At the time, Obama’s deferential bow was somewhat obscured, and the White House insisted that the president simply had leaned forward to shake the king’s hand.



But the president's recent demonstration of royal deference to the Japanese emperor and empress suggests his earlier action was no aberration.




What should we make of this? Is it trivial to worry about what on its face could easily be interpreted as nothing more than a polite gesture by our president to respect the culture of a country?



America was founded on republican virtues — small “r,” that is. Like the French Republic, our nation does not recognize royalty or social rank, especially from officials of the republic.



The conduct of our president when he deals with foreign leaders is a serious matter. After all, he represents the American people and our Constitution.



Indeed, when President Obama bows before a foreign leader, the whole country bows with him.



It is difficult to grasp what President Obama’s motives are for bowing to foreign royalty (it would be nice if a reporter asked his press secretary Robert Gibbs why he does it).



But Obama’s motives do not really matter when we consider his behavior.



What matters is how the rest of the world will interpret his actions. When it comes to bowing before foreign leaders, there is a fine line between showing politeness and servility, between respect and weakness.



The United States leads the free world, and it goes without saying that our president as commander in chief is duty bound to protect the nation, and our allies by treaty. He should act in such a way that strengthens, not weakens, his position.



If we as American citizens wonder about how our president should act with foreign leaders when he meets with them in person, let us look to the history of the United States for guidance.



First, there is our cherished Constitution. When the Founding Fathers wrote it, they made abundantly clear their distaste of the hereditary forms of government that then dominated Europe.



Article I, section 9 of the U.S. 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 the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State."


As the nation’s first constitutional leader, President George Washington set the tone. When it was proposed that he be called “His Highness the President of the United States of America and the Protector of Their Liberties,” Washington scoffed at the idea and demanded he be called simply, “Mr. President.”



No president better exemplifies the republican virtues of the country than Thomas Jefferson, who had a purely American disdain for the pretensions of royal power which he believed were not legitimately derived from the people.



As he stated so eloquently in the Declaration of Independence, power was not derived from bloodlines or royal coronations. Instead he argued that since “all men are created equal” a government should exist by “deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”



Jefferson’s breezy indifference to the English monarchy was on display during his first days in the White House.



When the monarch’s new ambassador to the United States called for the first time to present his credentials he was not required to bow in front of the nation’s sovereign. In accordance with American values, he was assumed to be an equal, not a subject.



And so all he had to do was walk up to the White House and knock on the door (there were no guards or royal attendants).



Once he was beckoned inside, "a tall, high-boned man came into the room. He was dressed, or rather undressed, in an old brown coat, red waistcoat, old corduroy small-clothes much soiled, woollen hose, and slippers without heels. I thought him a servant,” said the visitor, “when General Varnum surprised me by announcing that it was the president."



According to the historian Henry Adams, the casual dress and easy-going manners of the new president were more important than they might seem at first glance.



“The seriousness of Jefferson's experiments in etiquette,” Adams observed, “consisted in the belief that they were part of a political system which involved a sudden change of policy toward two great powers. [They] were but the social expression of an altered feeling which found its political expression in acts marked by equal disregard of usage.”



The British ambassador and other diplomats to the United States were offended by Jefferson’s refusal to follow the rules of the Old World, but that did not matter to Jefferson or his countrymen, who re-elected him with a resounding majority of popular support.



Jefferson understood that symbolism was important.



Another president who promoted this egalitarian ideal was Franklin Roosevelt.



In 1939 he invited the king and queen of England to visit the United States to bolster Anglo-American unity in the face of the growing fascist threat. Roosevelt never bowed to the king or queen — or any foreign royalty, for that matter.



On this special occasion, he simply demonstrated American hospitality.



As the British journalist Alistair Cooke detailed: “Roosevelt took them [the Royal couple] off to Hyde Park [his Hudson River estate] and drove his own hand-run automobile into the grounds and gave them a hot dog lunch. Well, this was a shocker to the British, but it's the thing he would do. You see, he was a natural aristocrat, Roosevelt was. He didn't have to put on airs.”



Roosevelt was also an American through and through and secure in his standing as a world leader.



There is a lesson here for President Obama, who appears intent on upending more than two centuries of American protocol. When he as president bows before a Saudi king or a Japanese emperor, he is sending an implicit message to millions of people around the world that the leader of the free world accepts the notion that some people are born to a higher rank than others.



But when our president stands up straight and extends his hand in friendship to all civilized nations, there is no danger, there is only opportunity — opportunity to communicate the values and spirit that Jefferson so eloquently conveyed to the rest of the world — “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”



Daniel Ruddy writes on politics and history. His upcoming book, “Theodore Roosevelt’s History of the United States” (Harper Collins), is due out in April 2010.

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  • Kyle Karlin 2012/03/17 00:27:37
    Kyle Karlin
    +3
    George W Bush bowed to the Saudi KIng Check out this video from CNN at URL: magesource.cnn.com/imagesourc... It is very easy to verify whether something is true or not. As Judge Judy Says "If it doesn't make sense it usually isn't true".
  • JerZGirl 2010/04/15 06:15:13
    JerZGirl
    +1
    This is one of the stupidest things I've ever read. Try doing a little research next time. The Internet exists for a reason!! Look at Nixon and Eisenhower!!
  • Bruce Lee bowed 2010/02/06 16:48:38
    Bruce Lee bowed
    +1
    Republican President Richard M. Nixon's deep bow to communist Leader Mao Zedong in 1972.Watch It:Watch a montage of Fox's absurd attacks about President Obama's bow to the Emperor of Japan, along with the video and images they ignored:As shown not only did Presidents Nixon and Eisenhower bow to foreign leaders (Nixon to the Emperor of Japan, Eisenhower to Charles De Gaulle), but President Bush actually held hands with and kissed Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. Now we have Republican Nixon bowing to Chairman Mao . . . I'm sure we can expect an apology from FOX any day now.
  • JerZGirl Bruce L... 2010/04/15 06:17:33
    JerZGirl
    Amen!!! It's a sign of respect to other leaders based on THEIR culture. It does not in any way mean acquiescence. I can't stand lemmings. I really can't. And, don't expect that they'll do any research because to do so they'd actually have to read the opposition. Cults don't like their followers to read anything that opposes their "gospels".
  • devildidit 2009/11/21 10:47:16
    devildidit
    It's quite evident that here is someone else who does not do their homework and just takes what ever they hear or been told as gospel. Both Eisenhower and Nixon bowed when President. I would have a President bow and show respect to another leader when in that country than have our President running around Crawford, Texas holding hands and kissing a Saudi King. Next time do your homework.
  • AmmoLou 2009/11/19 21:18:13
    AmmoLou
    Here ya go cat another look at obama:

    Is Obama America's Buffoon?

    by AmmoLou Posted 50 minutes ago

    * 3 answers
    * Read all 4 comments
    *

    American Buffoon By Andrew Cline on 11.18.09 @ 6:09AM Barack Obama was supposed to be America's answer to the suave, European head of state. A debonair gentleman of the world, he would charm even the most sophisticated foreign leaders and pr... American Buffoon

    By Andrew Cline on 11.18.09 @ 6:09AM

    Barack Obama was supposed to be America's answer to the suave, European head of state. A debonair gentleman of the world, he would charm even the most sophisticated foreign leaders and prove, finally, that the United States is developed culturally, not just economically.

    Then he gave some DVDs.

    Ian Drury of London's Daily Mail wrote on March 8, "As he headed back home from Washington, Gordon Brown must have rummaged through his party bag with disappointment.

    "Because all he got was a set of DVDs. Barack Obama, a box set of 25 classic American films -- a gift about as exciting as a pair of socks."

    Brown had given Obama a set of pens made from part of the HMS Gannet, a Victorian-era anti-slave ship. A desk that has sat in the Oval Office since 1880 was made from the timbers of the HMS Resolute, the Gannet's sister ship. It was a st...

















    Here ya go cat another look at obama:

    Is Obama America's Buffoon?

    by AmmoLou Posted 50 minutes ago

    * 3 answers
    * Read all 4 comments
    *

    American Buffoon By Andrew Cline on 11.18.09 @ 6:09AM Barack Obama was supposed to be America's answer to the suave, European head of state. A debonair gentleman of the world, he would charm even the most sophisticated foreign leaders and pr... American Buffoon

    By Andrew Cline on 11.18.09 @ 6:09AM

    Barack Obama was supposed to be America's answer to the suave, European head of state. A debonair gentleman of the world, he would charm even the most sophisticated foreign leaders and prove, finally, that the United States is developed culturally, not just economically.

    Then he gave some DVDs.

    Ian Drury of London's Daily Mail wrote on March 8, "As he headed back home from Washington, Gordon Brown must have rummaged through his party bag with disappointment.

    "Because all he got was a set of DVDs. Barack Obama, a box set of 25 classic American films -- a gift about as exciting as a pair of socks."

    Brown had given Obama a set of pens made from part of the HMS Gannet, a Victorian-era anti-slave ship. A desk that has sat in the Oval Office since 1880 was made from the timbers of the HMS Resolute, the Gannet's sister ship. It was a stunningly thoughtful and unique gift left unreciprocated.

    But even worse, Obama refused to hold a joint press conference with Brown or invite him for an official White House dinner. And to top it all off, he sent back a bust of Churchill that was lent to the White House after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

    Russia Today wrote that week, "Despite Barack Obama's eloquent elocution, ivy school credentials and electric charisma, there is talk that he lacks the most crucial element of any great leader: judgment."

    Since March, Obama's social gaffes have continued. In April he bowed to the Saudi king; in July he was photographed staring at the rear end of a 16-year-old girl and suggested that Cambridge Police Officer James Crowley was stupid; in October he refused to meet with the Dalai Lama; in September he refused five requests from Gordon Brown for a one-on-one meeting but found time to fly to Copenhagen to promote Chicago's Olympic bid; and this month he sent Hillary Clinton to attend the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, then topped it all with an obsequious bow to the emperor of Japan.

    Obama cannot even blame the Japan bow on proper protocol. It was anything but proper. It was so inappropriate that it even offended the Japanese.

    President Bush supposedly offended the rest of the world with his cowboy chauvinism, but at least he followed proper etiquette while telling the leaders of other countries that America was going to go its own way. Obama doesn't even know to invite the Prime Minister of Great Britain to a state dinner. He doesn't even bother to learn the proper way to greet kings and emperors.

    For all of George W. Bush's swagger, it is Barack Obama who has systematically offended three major allies -- Britain, Germany and Japan -- in the span of nine months, needlessly straining important relationships and making his country look simultaneously backward and arrogant.

    The reason for this is simple and obvious: Obama's singular arrogance. Only arrogance can explain the way Obama has treated Gordon Brown. Only arrogance can explain the president's snubbing of Germany and repeated refusal to learn the proper protocol for greeting other world leaders.

    Obama might be cultivating world opinion by insulting his own country in speech after speech and undermining its interests with his foreign policy, but the joke is on him. For his transparent disdain for other world leaders and customs is making him every bit the image of the buffoonish American president he tries so hard to convince the world he is not. (less)

    Read more: http://www.exposeobama.com/20...
    (more)
  • Cat AmmoLou 2009/11/19 21:24:28
  • VoiceOfReason 2009/11/17 22:00:46
    VoiceOfReason
    This is just one other meaningless thing that the right is using to discredit the president. I guess you don't know what respect and manners are since we came off of 8 years of shoot em and ask questions later diplomacy. Read through here long enough and you will see that many presidents have extended a respectful bow or hand to a foreign leader out of respect to their customs.

    This used to actually have some substance to it back in the early post revolutionary days. It would have been seen as being subversive to the King of England and probably would have been rightly so called an act of treason. This is an outdated and ignorant view in today's modern world.
  • Chicken Licken 2009/11/17 17:16:53
    Chicken Licken
    +1
    Bullshit.

    bullshit
  • Cat Chicken... 2009/11/19 21:18:07
    Cat
    Chicken could you please in the future use something along the lines of Bu!!$hi+ to make your point, and Identify your PREZ? in the photo, I trust it's real, just for he facts.
  • Chicken... Cat 2009/11/19 21:22:50 (edited)
    Chicken Licken
    Could you start by using punctuation?

    Edit: Spell Check too. Please re-read your prior post and correct for grammar and spelling. I swear I can't tell WTF you are trying to say.

    Edited again - That's President Nixon bowing to Mao Tse-Tung.
  • Cat Chicken... 2009/11/19 21:27:15
    Cat
    +1
    So sorry I have a terrible headache, and I am not making much sense today. Am making lots of mistakes. Thanks for the info, sorry again, Cat
  • Chicken... Cat 2009/11/19 21:29:21
    Chicken Licken
    +1
    NP.
    Hope you feel better.
  • Cat Chicken... 2009/11/19 21:30:42
    Cat
    +1
    I never get these, must be the weather! Thanks, Cat
  • The Protector 2009/11/17 15:39:38
    The Protector
    I think it is just a sign of respect. You are in their house, and they are welcoming you into their house so the least you can do is bow to them..especially when bowing to the leader, emporer or ruler is a custom in that country. As much as i don't agree with Obama, i still think he did no wrong bowing to these foreign leaders. Its not like hes submitting to their command :p
  • LBL 2009/11/17 14:55:13
    LBL
    I REMOVE MY HAT WHEN EVER I ENTER ANYONES HOME AS A SIGN OF RESPECT.IF YOU LIVE IN THE HOME AND WEAR YOUR HAT (AS A MAN) ALL AROUND ANYONES HOME ARE YOU SHOWING RESPECT TO YOUR HOME. A PRESIDENT THAT GREETS ANOTHER IN A FORMAL WAY IS SHOWING THAT RESPECT WHEN IN THEIR HOME LAND, BEING NOT WILLING TO SHAKE HANDS WITH OUR PRESIDENT WHEN GREETING HIM ON HIS HOME LAND WOULD BE CONSIDERED BY ME AS A FORM OF DISRESPECT.
  • LBL 2009/11/17 14:48:39
    LBL
    Join the discussion! Leave a comment.
  • LBL 2009/11/17 14:48:26
    LBL
    Join the discussion! Leave a comment.
  • Heptarch 2009/11/17 13:49:28
    Heptarch
    +2
    The assertion that no American President has ever bowed to anyone as a show of respect is flat out wrong.
  • iogames 2009/11/17 05:49:33
    iogames
    I don't bow to nobody because I think we are all equal...
    Customs? yeah from those countries that slave women... Touché!

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Oklahoma City, OK, US

2007/04/25 19:59:36

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