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05 April 2009


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Green Zone Cafe

Agreed. As the representative of a sovereign people, the president should bow to no one.

The scene from the movie Superman II comes to mind, when the president kneeled before General Zod. Of course, unlike General Zod, King Abdullah does not have superpowers beyond his control of the oil valve.


Agree totally. Thesiger tells a story about he asked his Bedu traveling companions what they called ibn Saud when they went to visit him. They looked at him as if he was stupid and said "We called by his name, ibn Saud, what else would we call him? Thesiger said something like "Oh, I thought you'd call him your majesty or something".

"We are Bedu," they replied," we have no king but G-d".

Sounds right to me.

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang.

I've a few random thoughts about the bowing business. An exchange of bows between gentlemen isn't a bad thing and certainly less awkward than these handshakes combined with shoulder clutching and semi-embraces that seem to have become all the fashion in encounters between exalted personages. The key phrase being: "an exchange of bows". Protocol, however, is important and, if no bowing is the correct procedure the Prez. should follow it. Much goofier is sneaking up behind the Lady Chancellor of Germany to give her an unsolicited back rub a la G. Bush and wrapping arms around the Queen of England by the fair Michelle. Our presidents had better shape up their manners.
Emily Post?


William P. Fitzgerald III

More on King Abdullah and the bow.

It strikes me that "the bow" was probably made in apology for the poor King having been coerced into making the dismal trek to Crawford, Texas. (I'm being facetious) More than a few world leaders did the same until 2004 or '05 , as I recall, none looked comfortable doing so. That whole thing seems to have come to an end about then and I've wondered if heads of state might have commnicated that a trip to the United States wasn't worth having to spend time in Crawford.



Agree about bowing,but the U S being the foremost republic is debatable.


Equally appalling is the President saluting the military. Yet Bush did this routinely with nary a word of criticism.

When the president salutes the military he salutes for all Americans. The United States is the world's foremost republic, not a banana republic. It is utterly inappropriate for our head of state to make a gesture of submission to any kind of military organization.

There are plenty of other ways for the President to show respect for the military, but most of those would have required Bush to actually do something, not just lift a few fingers.


At least Bush holding hands with Saudi king was a sign of equals. Obama's bow is a sign of subservience, like a dog rolling on its back baring its neck to the alpha. Obama understands power, making his gesture to the king all the more disturbing.


What you see as "submission," some see as courtesy.


Basically, I agree with Pat Lang here. Very good argument.

American presidents do not bow to foreign leaders, ESPECIALLY kings. If Ms Starr chose to bow to King Abdullah, that is her business. She is not president of the United States. If I choose to bow to the pope, that is my business. I would expect the president of the United States NOT to bow to the pope.


a) given the media's hysteria about Michelle's innocent gesture, could this have triggered this slight overdoing of etiquette/respect?

b) The situation is rather informal--true,in a larger formal setting--and that he bows so deeply suggests a spontaneous reaction to me. What happened before from Obama's perspective?

Could he be simply expressing respect for something the King Abdullah contributed earlier? ...

c) I can't remember having ever seen any state representative in a Vatican reception not kissing the Pope's ring. But I absolutely respect Pat Lang's position.


I agree. That was pathetic. Has there ever been another American president who bowed to a king?

Patrick Lang

Lina and Fitzgerald

Did Abdullah bow in return?


The Israelis have always said that I had spent too much time with the bedu.


I agree with you, the president is the CIVILIAN CinC of the armed forces. he should not salute. I am saddned to see that you think the armed services are unworthy of their countrymen's esteem. pl


p.s. I don't think anyone should bow to so-called "royalty." People bowing to each other as equals is fine.


Much lulz. Well I never . . . This is outrageous. What will the neighbors think? Hide the china. In other news - real news, that person over there has a gun and means business. Oh wait, his garments are wonderful.


When Obama surrounds himself with advisors who don't know their ass from a hole in the ground, such things happen, and will happen again!

I can just see Hannity and O'Reilley spinning it! Obama is a secret Muslim or some such drivel!

Too bad, he couldn't had sage advisors such as Chas Freeman or the Col. along on the visit to the Custodian of the Holy Shrines to keep him out of trouble.

William P. Fitzgerald III

I don't know if King Abdullah returned the bow. I doubt it, if for no other reason than that he might have been astonished.

As for saluting, I suppose that it and bowing are different forms of the same thing. Is it more accurate to say that our presidents who salute are returning salutes,rather than rendering them? Anyway, it started with the "Great Communicator",who must have really enjoyed returning salutes during the tough Hollywood and Santa Monica campaigns of WWII, and began the practice of presidential salute-returning. A humorous note. Years ago my father in law, a Canadian businessman, drove on post to visit us in a big cadillac and sporting a crew cut. He couldn't drive around the streets of Ft. Knox without getting saluted by all and sundry.



I agree with Pat Lang. Obama bowing to some foreigner with the fabricated title of "king" is a travesty.

Lest we forget, the American Revolution was fought to throw off the chains of this ludicrous concoction called "monarchy."

No right-thinking American should extend any recognition whatsoever to these made-up titles of monarchy and aristocracy. Any such recognition is a betrayal of our values.


On the Pres saluting military personal...who started that? I think it was Reagan. Would love to have been a fly on the wall for that particular decision. Because someone had to say 'no, we've never done that here'.

It's been too long now, for me be certain, but I think I recall that we were told (in the Marines)never salute someone in civilian garb. Come to attention....yes. Salute? No. Do I have that correct?

Abu Sinan

I am married to a Saudi and we both were disappointed when we saw this.

My wife, a Saudi, would have given a different gesture to the king. The two finger salute!


PL--Sorry if my words could somehow be taken to suggest that I feel the armed services are unworthy of esteem.

I thought it was clear that I was criticizing only the civilian CinC who confuses his power relationship with the military, even if only symbolically.

FB Ali

He would obviously have been advised on this. (By State Dept protocol?) Considering that he wasn’t advised to bow to the Queen, there was something other than correct etiquette as the motivation here. Did they think this would score points with the Muslim world? Are they outta their minds? The Saudi royals are the most reviled and despised group throughout the length and breadth of the Muslim world. In all countries, among every class of people. This makes a laughing-stock out of the US. The advice was so shockingly bad that one begins to suspect deliberate sabotage. Whoever gave it should be promptly fired.

Is this going to prove to be the Achilles’ heel of the Obama presidency – poor advisers, bad advice? The sense I am beginning to get of him is that of a very intelligent, modern young man, a visionary, but with limited worldly experience, the kind that enables you to judge people and assess the advice you get.

Nancy K

I find it humorous but it has become boring, all the excitment about touching and bowing. Obviously it is very important to many people, but I think there are probably other's who are as tired of the subject as I am. I don't give a rat's ass about who touchwa or who bows. I just want our economy strong again, high employment numbers and world peace, is that asking too much.


There is nothing courteous about the leader of the western world breaching his nation's centuries old protocol by bowing to a Saudi king who runs an extremely repressive, anti-human rights regime. Presidents are meticulously well-schooled on protocol before they leave the states. This bow did not happen spontaneously or accidentally, it is specific action designed to send a specific message - what that message is, is anyone's guess.

Americans do not kow-tow to any monarch. It is against the protocol that arose in the aftermath of the revolution we fought to avoid showing subservience to monarchs who claimed to be divinely chosen. I have no idea why anyone of substance would want to breach that protocol.

As for previous incidents, I do know Nancy Reagan caused a minor scandal by curtsying to the Queen of England. Also, Bill Clinton bowed his head slightly to the emperor of Japan who was raising a wine glass to toast him - something emperors rarely do.

Bowing to a monarch is not the same action as bowing to your neighbor - it just isn't. I have no idea why the leader of the western world would chose to display subservience to the leader of the Saudi monarchy. It's appalling.


Well the nation began with General George Washington kicking King George's derriere out, figuratively speaking.

And look what we've come to today. Our Head of State publically bowing to a despotic ruler of the country that manned up 911, and at least indirectly financed that little operation.

Obviously our hansome new commander in chief has an appreciation of the spirit of Sharia Law if not all the finer points.

It should be interesting watching him try to rconcile his muslim instincts (father, and step father muslim, plus the influance of lovely Chicago's radical impulses)


President bows to king of a country where women are not allowed to vote or drive. President's economic adviser believes women are underrepresented in math and science occupations because of genetics. As a presidential candidate characterized former First Lady's political experience as "attending tea parties" and said about her "periodically when she is feeling down her claws come out." Presidential candidate's followers described former First Lady and then incumbent senator with various sexual obscenities. Presidential candidate using "99 Problems but a Bitch Ain't One" as a primary campaign theme song.

Are we perhaps seeing a pattern here? Women reading this blog, what do you think?


Likewise, no American President should stand to attention nor have hand over heart when the British national anthem "God Save our Gracious Queen" is played.

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