But when I saw the video of his meeting with Abdullah, there was no mistaking it. Obama bowed - deeply - to one monarch during the same trip in which he barely nodded to another. But why does this matter? Because in the foreign relations and diplomacy world, symbolic gestures matter, and they matter greatly. What will King Carl Gustav of Sweden, for example, think if Obama fails to render the same bow to him? From here on out anything short of a waist-deep bow to a reigning foreign monarch can be taken as a snub.
The Anchoress reminds us that in 1994, the New York Times chided then-President Bill Clinton for much less in an encounter with the Emperor of Japan.
It wasn't a bow, exactly. But 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.Yet so far, not one single major news outlet has said word one about Obama's obsequiousness to the Saudi monarch. It's almost as if...I don't know...the White House press pool has been warned not to ask questions about it.
The Anchoress also suggests there may be something revealing in the way Obama seemed to have checked his bow, as if he started the bow as an automatic reflex before catching himself.
Let me say right off the bat, I have never thought, as apparently many still do, that Barack Obama was a Muslim. Obama said he was a Christian, and - although it is difficult to believe he sat in Jeremiah Wright’s church for 20 years and never heard him utter racist or anti-American sentiments - I tend to take people at their word, until their behavior informs me otherwise.I don't think this reveals anything more than a bias favoring a representative of a more "exotic" foreign culture, over the representative of a boring, old Western culture.
Such is the case, here. President Obama’s own behavior has me wondering.
I don’t like this video. Spin it any way you like, Obama’s knee is bending, and the head is going very low, almost low enough to kiss a ring, but then Obama’s smooth movements become awkward and stilted, reflecting interrupted momentum - like a batter checking his swing. This looks very much like a man catching himself in mid-bow and suddenly remembering that he should not.
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air put together this video for you to compare and contrast.