Submitted By Todd on April 5th at 8:21am
The action appeared especially awkward since among the dozens of world leaders and their spouses, handshakes abounded, but there appeared to be no other bowing in the room.He certainly bowed in a stiff, obsequious manner, especially when compared to the more casual nod he gave when meeting the Queen of England. The President's relative lack of respect for the Queen could be evidence of Presidential sexism, but I suspect it has more to do with a heightened sense of protocol on the meeting with the Saudi Royal, as well as the somewhat casual expectations at Buckingham Palace.
"The Queen meets thousands of people each year in the UK and overseas. Before meeting Her Majesty, many people ask how they should behave. The simple answer is that there are no obligatory codes of behaviour - just courtesy. However, many people wish to observe the traditional forms of greeting. For men this is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Other people prefer simply to shake hands in the usual way."I toured Saudi Arabia with a group of radio talk hosts in 2002, and we met with some high level members of the royal family, though not at the King or Crown Prince level, in what seems to be a fairly standard dog and pony show the Saudis run for visitors of any influence. I have no recollection of any bowing. We were briefed on proper etiquette by our tour guides, and I can't recall anything but western style handshakes. But, if we had been asked to do the Obama bow, I can't imagine that any of us would have. The Obama bow is intuitively offensive. Most all high level Saudis studied in either Britain or the U.S., so they are comfortable with our cultural norms. There is no need, and no expectation, that visitors prostrate themselves. It seems obvious that the President put too much into this bow, which leads to the obvious question - why? Is it just his beginner status in world politics, is he looking for a good price on oil, or is this an insight into his character? Perhaps he is too eager to bow. What made Obama "bow" to the likes of Reverends Wright and Pfleger, Tony Rezko and Bill Ayers?