Obama Bow: Right Idea, Wrong Bow

Even Nixon bowed to the Japanese emperor —but he did it better
By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 16, 2009 11:52 AM CST
President Barack Obama bows as he is greeted by Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – A friend of ABC’s Jake Tapper would like to clear up some misconceptions about President Obama’s bow to the Japanese emperor: First, “the right is wrong about Obama’s bow.” It’s not an “unprecedented” display of subservience from an American president—Richard Nixon bowed to the emperor in 1971 (photo here). But the left also misses the mark: The bow can’t be a “sign of cultural understanding” when it’s done all wrong.

Nixon’s bow was spot on, continues Tapper’s friend, who is a student of Japanese history. “Obama's handshake/forward lurch was so jarring and inappropriate it recalls Bush's back-rub of Merkel.” A move designed to “show the president as dignified” came off like a “first year English teacher trying to impress with Karate Kid-level knowledge of Japanese customs.” It made him look weak “in Red State terms” and Japanese terms, too.