Once again, Barack Obama has demonstrated his appalling hatred for America, and his elitism, and his arrogance, and his tearing down and bashing of his country and his predecessor’s foreign policies, by greeting Japan’s prime minister with a deep bow in a culturally appropriate way.
Conservative bloggers, of course, are apoplectic. Scott Johnson gets this out, between convulsive gasps:
Obama’s breach of protocol is of a piece with the substance of his foreign policy. He means to teach Americans to bow before monarchs and tyrants. He embodies the ideological multiculturalism that sets the United States on the same plane as other regimes based on tribal privilege and royal bloodlines. He gives expressive form to the idea that the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world. He declares that the United States is a country like any other, only worse, because we have so much for which to apologize.
Ron Beasley points out the lack of understanding of Japanese culture. This is not about being politically correct; it’s about trying to avoid looking like an ignorant fool:
I don’t know if the Powerline crew has spent anytime in Japan but I have. In the US we shake hands – in Japan they bow. Not just to the emperor but to everyone you meet. Is it really surrender when you demonstrate a little knowledge and respect for the culture of a country you are visiting? In the wingnut world the answer is yes. Is it any wonder that the rest of the world hates a country with so many pompous a-hs? I think not!
John Steele Gordon at Commentary didn’t get the memo:
Could someone in the Chief of Protocol’s Office at the State Department please tell Barack Obama that heads of state do not bow to other heads of state? And for the head of state of the country founded on the idea that “all men are created equal,” that goes double.
Actually, they do. And sometimes they kiss and hold hands.
Gordon continues, moving on to the “sainted America” theme:
President Obama goes abroad apologizing for the supposed sins of a country that defended and extended freedom around the world at a staggering cost in lives and treasure and then grovels before the man whose country has yet to apologize for the Rape of Nanking.
It never ceases to amaze me how much more importance contemporary conservatives place on the form of democracy rather than the substance. Bowing to the leader of a country in which bowing is a respectful greeting when meeting any new person is a betrayal of democracy. Show trials in which convictions are gained using torture, hearsay testimony, and suppression of evidence are defenses of democracy.
As are nuclear weapons used on cities where hundreds of thousands of civilians live — when the United States does it. In another post on the bowing “scandal,” Donald Douglas disapprovingly notes Obama’s failure to give a direct answer to a question asked by a Japanese reporter about the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The reporter asked if, in the light of Obama’s strong interest in a nuclear-free world, he had any desire to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and whether he felt that the United States had done the right thing in dropping the bombs.
Obama’s response to that part of the question:
Obviously, Japan has unique perspective on the issue of nuclear weapons as a consequence of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — and that, I’m sure, helps to motivate the prime minister’s deep interest in this issue. I certainly would be honored, it would be meaningful for me to visit those two cities in the future. I don’t have immediate travel plans, but it’s something that would be meaningful to me.
The president then asked the reporter what the rest of his question was, specifically saying it had several parts and he wasn’t sure he remembered the last one. I’m sure he knew that he had not answered the query about his personal feelings, or opinion, regarding the morality of the bombings — but he did leave that opening for the reporter to repeat the question and the reporter did not, for whatever reason.
Donald Douglas bluntly criticizes Obama for evading the question. I would have liked to hear his answer, too, but not for the same reason. Douglas’s post title says it all: ” ‘America’s First Pacific President’ — Won’t Defend U.S. Nuclear Attacks at Hiroshima, Nagasaki.” Emphasis is mine. And Douglas goes on to comment (at the bottom of the post):
Interesting, that, with Hawaii and all being the opening salvo of Japan’s declaration of war on the United States. Tokyo’s surprise attack was met with American power, and ultimately America’s ultimate weapon in August 1945. You’d think that a U.S. president would be able to speak frankly about the cold, hard, difficult realities of international history. Just not this president, our post American president.
Amazing. I don’t expect that Donald Douglas would understand, or that it would even occur to him to consider, that at a press conference in Japan, standing next to the youngest son of the Emperor Hirohito — you know, the guy who surrendered to the United States? — it would be the most appalling cruelty to actually defend the nuclear bombings. Look at the expression on Emperor Akihito’s face as Obama is answering the reporter, on the video at Douglas’s site.
But no — I understand that one cannot expect someone whose highest value in life is “American power” to be able to parse these subtler kinds of human interactions. Having said that, you would think that an associate professor of political science at a university in California would at least “get” the “hard, cold, international” facts of realpolitik that would make it politically and pragmatically inadvisable to defend the rightness and morality of using nuclear weapons while on an official state visit to the country on which they were used.