Firing A Shot Across Obama's Bow

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The usual crowd of armchair patriots is having a collective fit over President Obama's decision to greet Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko with a bow.

A bow?

I kid thee not. This post by Donald Douglass at the aptly-named blog American Power was representative of the sort of apoplectic commentary triggered by the president's visit with the royal couple as he arrived at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Saturday.

"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."

Don't let appearances throw you. Turns out that Douglass is an assistant professor of political science - one who also declares that he despises "the hard-left radical agenda and discourse" (which I gather includes Mr. Obama and his cohort of closet commies.) His class must be a delight. But Douglass's purple prose pales next to this snarky summation by John Steele Gordon at Commentary:

"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. As my mother used to say, "Pardon me while I throw up."

The Rape of Nanking? I thought World War 2 was long over, but OK. Memories die hard. But does that mean the next time Air Force One lands in Vietnam, the locals are going to bust our chops about My Lai, Agent Orange or the phony circumstances surrounding the Gulf of Tonkin incident that we used as a pretext to send in more troops?

Did Mr. Obama truly intend to send the subliminal message that yes, he is a multicultural wuss who likes to grovel before foreigners? Or was he instead trying to play the part of polite guest in a region of the world where this sort of formal protocol counts for extra. Anyway, if you blink while playing the video clip, you'll miss the infamous waist bend.

Of course, the source of the right's distemper has little to do with a supposed breach of diplomatic etiquette. As these and other critiques of the administration's foreign policy suggests, this crowd views Obama as the second coming of Neville Chamberlain and the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the president only confirms their conviction that he's well on his way to selling out the nation.

You heard much of the same sort of commentary earlier in the week after an AP dispatch reported that the president was insisting on a timetable spelling out when the U.S. would transfer security responsibilities to the Afghanistan National Army and that he won't allow Gen. Stanley McChrystal - or any other military subordinate - to rush him into an open-ended commitment in Afghanistan.

After years of occupation in the Mideast, is it so irresponsible for the president to demand that his underlings first figure out the "end game" before he decides whether to escalate in Afghanistan? The folks who led the cheerleading when George Bush invaded Iraq don't agree. Then again, they refuse to acknowledge that the U.S. can pursue its foreign policy objectives other than with an M-16 and a smirk.

So in the meantime, let's get all wee-weed up over a bow.
  • Charles Cooper On Twitter»

    Charles Cooper is an executive editor at CNET News. He has covered technology and business for more than 25 years, working at CBSNews.com, the Associated Press, Computer & Software News, Computer Shopper, PC Week, and ZDNet. E-mail Charlie.

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