During the past presidential campaign, Republicans used the tag line of “Not ready to lead” as a heavy criticism of Obama. This characteristic was once again on display during Obama’s recent visit to Japan. The LA Times has some commentary about this scene where Obama meets Japanese Emperor Akihito.
As one can imagine the symbolic, deep bow will play very well with traditional Japanese society. But what does it say about our president?
I’m actually not as concerned with the bow itself but how it helps to paint a picture of Obama’s views about America and about himself. Here are some comments Obama made during his visit. Once again he feels the need to apologize for Bush.
In a slap at President George W. Bush, Obama spoke of the importance of “multilateral organizations [that] can advance the security and prosperity of this region.”
“I know that the United States has been disengaged from these organizations in recent years. So let me be clear: those days have passed,” Obama said during the first major address of a four-country Far East swing, which will continue from Japan to Singapore, China and South Korea. “As an Asia Pacific nation, the United States expects to be involved in the discussions that shape the future of this region, and to participate fully in appropriate organizations as they are established and evolve,” Obama said.He goes on to declare himself the first Pacific President and that naturally he would be the one to redeem the United States. I find this whole attitude deeply disturbing. I understand that some people feel embarrassed about President Bush. While I feel these people are reacting emotionally and not rationally, it is within their rights to have such a reaction. But such people should not be President of the United States. By primary definition, the president should be someone who is patriotic, who respects America and indeed all Americans. Obama was not elected leader of the world in some quixotic vision of an earth with no nations.
Over at Powerline, John notes the same comments and concludes:
Ashamed of his country but arrogant about himself–what a disgusting combination.
I couldn’t agree more.
Update: Ed Morrissey notes that in 1994 the New York Times took Clinton to task for almost bowing to Akihito.
Canadians still bow to England’s Queen; so do Australians. Americans shake hands. If not to stand eye-to-eye with royalty, what else were 1776 and all that about?
Do you think the NYT will comment on Obama now? No need to answer…
Update 2: For those in the comments that think that it is appropriate for the president to bow to another foreign leader, consider the symbolism. I can think of no better example than this iconic scene from Superman II.
Watch this and consider the quote “You are not the president. No one who leads so many could possibly kneel so quickly.” Fiction? Yes. But the symbolism is the same.