The right-wing tsk tsk tskers are at it again. This time it is a deep bow of respect President Barack Obama offered when greeting Japanese emperor Akihito this weekend in Tokyo.
That bastion of conservatism, The Drudge Report, signaled its disgust by shouting in 42-pt. boldface headlines “How Low Can He Get?”
And, get this. Drudge uses as an example of diplomatic decorum none other than former Vice President Dick Cheney shaking hands with the emperor at the same residence in a 2007 file photo.
The Drudge article written by Andrew Malcolm didn’t stop Obama’s kissie pooh of royalty there. It reminded us of its outrage when our president had the gall to bow to the Saudi Arabia king earlier this year and Michelle Obama’s patting Queen Elizabeth on her back.
Oh, my gosh. Obama has denigrated our national dignity to the level of some third world country — say Somalia — the report would have us believe.
Let’s review. World opinion of the United States sunk to an all-time low during the cowboy diplomacy of George W. Bush and the ever-popular Mr. Cheney. Obama has spent a good part of his first year in office trying to restore our image after eight years of an administration that flipped the bird to our friends and foes alike.
I see Obama as showing respect to the other world leaders by recognizing their customs. That doesn’t diminish our role in international affairs. It enhances it. And, in the case of Japan and China, it’s not like he is giving away the key to our treasury. Hell, they already own it by acquiring our debt.
So what’s the problem? It’s what I call the Ugly American Syndrome. It’s the belief we are the greatest country on earth and if others don’t like it then stuff it. If others still resist, we will nuke them.
Now, it is only natural patriotism for any given country is a healthy thing. It is natural one wants to defend what he cherishes. The French are masters of that. Americans consider the French arrogant because they cling to the past, as Bush’s former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld observed.
Because fate delivered me born in the USA, I’m perfectly content and fortunate for all the perks it offers. Do I think we’re the greatest nation on earth? Not really, but I wouldn’t want to change places with any citizen in any other nation on the planet.
Unlike the rightists, I don’t need to thump my chest and claim I’m better than you, you poor slob living in the caves of Afghanistan. Look at the public opinion polls. The U.S. can’t make the Top Ten list in numerous categories, the most embarrassing one being education. We can’t spell without a computer spellcheck system. We can’t locate our states on our maps. We can’t do math without a calculator.
But, yes, we do one thing very well. We can knock the crap out of any nation at any time by pushing a red button.
It makes the discussion about how deep did our president bow so petty it stinks.
Author’s Note: The link to The Drudge Report referred to a Los Angeles Times story. I couldn’t find it on-line but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t there.
Jerry Remmers worked 26 years in the newspaper business. His last 23 years was with the Evening Tribune in San Diego where assignments included reporter, assistant city editor, county and politics editor.