And you know it’s true:
Greeting the Japanese emperor at Tokyo’s Imperial Palace last weekend, President Barack Obama bowed so low that he was looking straight at the stone floor. The next day, Obama shook hands with the prime minister of repressive Myanmar during a group meeting. The day after that, the president held a “town hall” with Chinese university students who had been selected by the regime.
The images from the president’s journey through Asia carried a potent symbolism that has riled critics back home. One conservative website called the episodes “Obamateurism.” Former Vice President Dick Cheney told POLITICO that Obama was advertising “weakness.”
But White House aides say the approach is deliberate — part of Obama’s determination to deliver on his campaign promise of directly engaging friends and enemies alike, giving America a less belligerent posture abroad.
“I think it’s very important for the United States not to assume that what is good for us is automatically good for somebody else,” Obama told the students at the town hall, in Shanghai. “And we have to have some modesty about our attitudes towards other countries.”
White House senior adviser David Axelrod, who is accompanying the president on his four-nation, nine-day trip, told POLITICO that Obama is “governing in just the way that he said he would” during his campaign.
“He believes in vigorous engagement around the world — in strong alliances, in confronting our adversaries and standing up for human rights by making these points in a very public way,” Axelrod said. “He is confident. He’s someone who’s leading from strength and a deep belief in who America is and what we stand for. That confidence is reflected in the way he conducts himself on the world stage.”
But critics call Obama’s outstretched hand a miscalculation. Cheney said: “There is no reason for an American president to bow to anyone. Our friends and allies don’t expect it, and our enemies see it as a sign of weakness.”
Dick Cheney, speaking truth to weakness.