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05 April 2009


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Maureen Lang

President Obama would have better served all of us & himself by looking straight into Abdullah's face rather than at the floor.


As one woman who reads this blog every day, if there's some pattern you feel you detect forming, might try adding Lilly Ledbetter onto that balance sheet.


Welcome to the 'third term' of George W. Bush.

William R. Cumming

Okay enough! We bow to Saudis whenever we fill up the tank. We bow to Chinese when President visits China first. We bow to everyone in the worst ways possible and then show our complete ignorance of etiqutte and symbolism by our business and governmental leaders always posturing over our "Leadership" Real leaders as real independent countries don't need to pretend they are in charge, they are in charge. When President's travel let it be for "Summit" reasons other than just production of a joint communique. As far as I am concerned this post and comments generally demonstrate only to much the reality of how far the US has fallen. Perhaps electing another FDR in a wheel chair will prevent bowing from being an issue. $13 Trillion out the door and the real question what has it done to the future and could it have been better spent. The FED should no longer be immune for governance of its independence. This episode proves conclusively how badly it has been managed since its creation. No more Bob Woodward's economically ignorant "Mastro" analysis. Time for the US to grow up and eliminate amatuer hour. We have leaders, too few, so now let's get them into the necessary positons that allow them to lead. When we will get it, no bows to Kings!


Well, I looked at the visual side of this story and absolutely changed my mind. If this was part of the White House etiquette training, it would be interesting to know who is in charge.

And, if I am honest, I hate it if somebody that is not close to me infringes upon my space, let alone touches me. So I guess, I should grant Elisabeth the same right. This is a really http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/world/obama-and-the-king-a-right-royal-bow-row-20090403-9lzl.html>patronizing gesture. As if the queen was her daughter, her granny.

But Obama is even worse, he looks absolutely ludicrous. It's around http://michellemalkin.com/2009/04/02/video-obamas-deep-bow-to-the-saudi-king/>0:55 scroll down for the video

nita scott

I would think it must have had a great effect on the King if what you say is true . It is one way of making a statement WITHOUT saying anything - and there may well have been a reason why this was done - and I dare say he may not have been the only President to do this - in private !!- like most diplomatic moves ??


"She'll swallow you from Bearskin to Boots!"

John Stewart's take on this issue:


Whether or not the President was right to bow, I won't get into the histrionics of the issue, but rather look at the Presidents actions in the context of the whole situation, was there something strategic to be gained by bowing? That is probably the more productive argument to be had.

As for the saluting the Military, I'll say for the Army that we are required by AR 600-25 para 1-5, subpara f, that

"The President of the United States, as the commander in chief, will be saluted by Army personnel in uniform." and is further reinforced in FM 7-21-13:

4-7. The salute is not simply an honor exchanged. It is a privileged gesture of respect and trust among soldiers. Remember the salute is not only prescribed by regulation but is also recognition of each other’s commitment, abilities, and professionalism.


4-9. The salute is widely misunderstood outside the military. Some consider it to be a gesture of servility since the junior extends a salute to the senior, but we know that it is quite the opposite. The salute is an expression that recognizes each other as a member of the profession of arms; that they have made a personal commitment of self-sacrifice to preserve our way of life. The fact that the junior extends the greeting first is merely a point of etiquette—a salute extended or returned makes the same statement.

I would further argue that in a time of war and sacrifice, it would seem appropriate for the civilian Commander in Chief to render that simple courtesy to those who are to prosecute that war.



Abu Sinan

It would seem Bush bowed as well.



jonst -

When I served (Marines 1960s), we were taught to salute women in civilian clothes. As I recall the ladies used to love being saluted by myself and other sentries when driving through the main gate. We extended that courtesy to all women regardless of whether they were civilian, enlisted wives, officer wives, or WM's in civilian clothes. Who could tell the difference unless you knew them personally?

It did not always work well in front of the gin joints just outside of most military bases. But oh well!


Sorry but if you look closely to the photograph you'll note that everyone is looking downwards as if the king or our President dropped something. They are even laughing or smiling at whatever has happened. Does not look like a bow to these eyes.


Obama nodded to the queen. The bow to the king was a full genufection. He's probably impressed that the Saudi's own 7% of U.S. They have purchased America quietly,unlike the Japanese in the 80s buying high profile american real estate. First thing Reagan did on retiring from office was make a speech in Japan for 2 million dollars, cheap compared to what Clinton got for selling us out, our production that is, to the Chinese. Bush I broke the deal with the Japanese when he threw up on their Prime Minister in '92. Now there was symbolism, like watching Nixon sweat and make Freudian slips on television. America has been for sale for a long time and it has made many of our leaders very wealthy. A bunch of Putin heads.


I think ChrisH may be right.

I just got hold of a larger copy of the photo. If in fact Obama is bowing, it looks very much to me as if it's part of some "in joke" shared by those present. Both the Saudi King and Sarkozy (and the chap on the left) look very amused indeed; perhaps Obama was putting on a little show.

Clifford Kiracofe

FB Ali raises the issue of advice and what this protocol incident may symbolize (or indicate) for the Obama presidency ...bad advisors and bad advice.

The US Minister to Brazil back in the 1820s in a famous incident refused to bow to the Emperor Dom Pedro. This caused a stir back then in some Brazilian circles but the Minister correctly represented his Republic.

Some in the Middle East might interpret this as endorsing the Saudi financed Wahhabintern and its goal of creating little Wahhabistans everywhere....like in Pakistan or Afghanistan or..well, pick somewhere....


i usually agree with all but this seems somewhat overblown.

obama is a young man, president or not. the king is an old man, absolute monarch or not. in bowing, he was showing a customary deference to age- not subjugating the american nation to saudi rule.

it is a subtle thing, perhaps too subtle. but i sincerely doubt that the king has any illusions about our ability to call shots as befitting our interests.

it clearly did not please some. but showing some social deference to elders is something that has not traditionally been a point of emphasis in american foreign policy- or in everyday life.


Not certain the relevance of "foremost republic."

IMHO The leader of Lichtenstein also should not bow.


It seems to me Obama's bowing to the Saudi king was a violation of, if not the letter, certainly the spirit of the Constitutional prohibition against accepting emoluments from foreign powers. Since that provision was written with the British monarchy in mind, so would accepting any title the Queen of England, which our too mahy of our poliyticians do too readily.


Obama's bow is consistent with his amateurishness (IPOD for the Queen, etc.) and the servility he (and his hate-America aides) are so anxious to show (witness his speech in France).

Shirley McDermott

The Buddhists and other Asian cultures have a courtesy bow i.e. bowing from the god in me to the god in you. I think mucking about with the particulars here is counterproductive i.e. angels on the head of a pin. Think of all bows as ones of respect for each other.


obama is a young man, president or not. the king is an old man, absolute monarch or not. in bowing, he was showing a customary deference to age- not subjugating the american nation to saudi rule.

I don't know about this: the president of a country, young or old, represents the entire country. His actions reflect both the office and the nation, not his personal status. There's one story, perhaps rather tangential, that I'd like to share regarding this point: about 15 years ago, there was a ruckus in South Korea when the president's octogenarian father refused to stand at some public function when the president was announced--and he was the only one. People thought this was most inappropriate since, even if he is, privately, the president's father, it was not to the person of the president but the office that people were showing respect. And this was in South Korea--where the "culture" is highly Confucian and elders are supposedly respected.

I think NO head of any sovereign state should ever show any indication of obeisance to ANY foreign leader, in jest or otherwise. It's not merely a matter of protocol--it's lousy politics too. This is especially bad for a US president and ME potentates.

Mike Moore

Trust me, if the true leader of the United states met with King Abdullah, the bowing would have been the other way around.

This just shows you that Obama holds little real power and they want him to know it.


Mike Moore,

Just who is this true leader you speak of?

frank durkee

The Washington Monthly Blog reports that both Bush and his VP bowed to this same king.

Patrick Lang


My rather mild crticism of President Obama's excessive display toward Abdullah bin abd al-Aziz has been the occasion for a wave of nastiness directed toward us all.

We are described as xenophobic and ignorant yahoos reminiscent of all the worst traits of "fly-over" america.

I find this sad as it indicates that so many who applauded criticism of Bush were merely seeking a god on the left.

But, it has been a diversion from my recent reading on the subject of the emergence of tariqa sufism in the 11th century. pl


I was nauseated when I saw George W Bush kissing the king on the face and dancing arm in arm brandishing swords, and even more disgusted when we continued to sell the latest high-tech weapons to Saudi Arabia. The deference to a brutal tyrant is bipartisan.


When someone says "salute the military", a distinction should be made between the act of initiating a salute (a sign of respect for a higher ranking service member) and the act of "returning a salute" which is an acknowledgment (like "you're welcome" is to "thank you") and while not required (AFAIK) is considered good form. From my observation, all US Presidents return salutes routinely. But I also understand that the only case where a US President (like all other citizens) should initiate a salute is when encountering a Medal of Honor winner (the highest military award).

Also, you may notice that the US delegation does not "dip" or lower the American flag when passing the reviewing officials in the march of national teams that is part of the Olympic opening ceremonies. And especially in light of our American revolution no American President should EVER bow to any king (and we certainly should not start with the Saudi king!). According to the US Constitution, America does not recognize "royalty". If Obama bowed to a Saudi king, as US President, then this was a mistake for which he might consider an apology to the nation.


No American should bow to a foriegn ruler. To have our president bow to this despot is beyond belief.

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