Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Obama's wow bow II: Turns out Japan's emperor is just fine with simple handshakes (video)

November 17, 2009 |  6:04 am

Among the thousands of comments left on the Ticket in recent days, most dealt with our item: "How low will he go?" about the awkward bow that President Obama gave Japan's Emperor Akihito over the weekend.

Apparently improperly briefed about accepted procedure in Japan or perhaps having a time zone mind melt, Obama stuck out his hand for a shake. Which was fine. And friendly.

Democrat US president Barack Obama awkwardly greets Japan's Emperor Akihito Tokyo 11-09

He then proceeded to simultaneously bow. Which was not.

And take his eyes off the person he's greeting. Which was not.

And, worst in the eyes of many, the over-enthusiastic president of the United States bowed way down at a 45-degree angle, indicating in that culture, and apparently in the eyes of many others, subservience to the emperor, son of the man who authorized the 1941 Pearl Harbor attack.

This came only a few months after White House aides denied that Obama bowed to the Saudi king, when it sure looked like a bow to non-aides.

And it all seemed to fit in with what critics mockingly call Obama's world apology tours.

It also adds to previous Obama diplomatic gaffes. There was that promise to talk with the president of Canada. A reference to not speaking Austrian. Giving Britain's prime minister a chintzy collection of American movie DVDs, which weren't formatted for video players in the U.K. And Michelle Obama's friendly or patronizing pat to the back of Queen Elizabeth II, who received as her presidential gift an iPod with Broadway show tunes.

The emperor of Japan, who does not bow to anyone, and his wife handled the awkward wow bow moment with regal aplomb. Japanese do not typically expect foreigners to bow anyway and often feign pleasant surprise when one is attempted.

Fact is, as the photo of Vice President Dick Cheney shows on that same post, the Japanese emperor is good with handshakes. He really is.

To make the point humorously -- sure, and with a little political dig -- the College Republicans at the University of Connecticut spent some time this last weekend assembling a hilarious video of just exactly how good the Japanese emperor is with handshakes.

And just how unusual Obama's attempted bow was.

It's even got music:

-- Andrew Malcolm

Speaking of bows, click here to get Twitter alerts of each new Ticket item. Or follow us @latimestot. And we're also over here on Facebook.

Photo: Mandel Ngan  AFP / Getty
Comments 

Advertisement










Video