Updated: The Bow

Barack Obama,Britain,Democracy,EU,Europe,Feminism,Foreign Policy,Gender,Ilana Mercer,Individualism Vs. Collectivism,Middle East

Barack bows a little too deeply to the king of Saud, and people go ballistic. (Don’t be nasty; neoconservatives are people too.) I don’t get it, but I’ll try and deconstruct it—as well as explain why I don’t give a tinker’s damn what gestures Barry makes, so long as he keeps his mitts off my wallet and doesn’t destroy my neighborhood (fat chance for both) .

The same people were mum when Bush and King Abdullah skipped through a field of delphinium (that’s what the romantic setting looked like) holding hands and smiling adoringly at one another. Puzzling to me is the inability of some to apply the same rules to all their leaders.

Their leader“: therein lies the rub. I think people are upset because they identify with Barry; they vest in him all kinds of symbolism; they see in him a representative.

I don’t.

Maybe I’m just a hopeless individualist, but I don’t identify with any politician; I consider them all corrupt and tainted by virtue of having chosen to make a living through the predatory, political, coercive means, rather than on the voluntary market.

Barry doesn’t stand for me, so I don’t care whose keister he kisses. I objected over his “Gangsta Gift” to the queen, not because he disgraced me; he has nothing to do with me, but because, as a traditionalist, I believe in hierarchy and civility. The queen might be a member of the much-maligned landed aristocracy, but she has acquitted herself as a natural aristocrat would—Elizabeth II has lived a life of dedication and duty, and done so with impeccable class. (It was a sad day when she capitulated to the mob and to the cult of the Dodo Diana.)

But I digress.

The other reason I don’t invest The Leader’s every move with such significance is because I consider him to have a limited role de jure. That he has usurped it is another matter. Certainly being polite to other national leaders is a good thing.

In this context, radio host Laura Ingraham baffled me the other day (and on most days) when she too became so exercised over Barry’s civility to the Europeans. This batty bird was furious that her leader’s plan was rejected by the Europeans. I know Ingraham is incoherent on the economic front. But if she disagrees with the stimulus, surely she would not wish to see Europeans stimulating. Isn’t a principle supposed to hold steady across continents? For the life of me, I could not fathom why this broad was mad because Barry was not being tough with the Europeans and they were not prepared to stimulate as obscenely as he was.

Basically, Ingraham had succumbed to the “Our guy vs. their guys” group think. They all do.

And this is what this fury over The Bow is all about: group think. He’s our guy and he should not be appearing weak (read respectful) to their guys. Collectivists have invested in the political process and in Obama a bit of themselves.

Now, neocons hate China, Saudi Arabia and Russia more than they hate, say, Mexico. Given my foreign policy perspective—shared with our founding fathers—I want other nations to keep our overweening leaders in check. I explained how in “Thank You, Nancy Pelosi”:

Those of us who want the U.S. to stay solvent—and out of the affairs of others—recognize that sovereign nation-states that resist, not enable, our imperial impulses, are the best hindrance to hegemonic overreach. Patriots for a sane American foreign policy ought to encourage all America’s friends … to push back and do what is in their national interest, not ours.

Doug Powers, my WND colleague, has his own theory about The Bow. It’s very funny:

“The president was only somewhat stooped over because he was trying to show King Abdullah what was on the iPod he brought over for him as a present. Naturally, it ended up being little embarrassing and somewhat insulting to the Saudis due to Obama’s insistence on “keeping it real” with what was loaded into the King’s gift.” (Be sure to check out the customized iPod tunes Obama made up for Abdullah).

Speaking of the confused Laura Ingraham, a shout out to Patrick O’Hannigan of The American Spectator, for actually bothering to tease apart the difference between my thinking on the economics of “pay equity,” and that of pro-life feminists like the radio host and Sarah Palin. O’Hannigan is referring to “Barack Against the Boys“:

Columnist Ilana Mercer was not at the ceremony, but asked the kind of economically-informed question that rarely percolates up through discussions of pay equity: If women with the same skills as men were getting only 78 cents for every dollar a man earns, wouldn’t men have long-since priced themselves out of the job market? The fact that men haven’t done that might mean that different abilities and experiences are at work, Mercer guessed, “rather than a conspiracy to suppress women.”

Mercer’s glass slipper of a response to equity issues will not fit anyone in the Obama administration, but it still attracts more positive attention than Christina Hoff Summers’ argument that boys rather than girls need help, thanks to a culture that derides men as oafs, and an educational system that considers masculinity the root of intolerance.

Update (April 5): It’s time to despair of the discourse in this country when people get worked up over a man tilting his body toward another, but not about the bankrupting of the US by the man and his predecessor. Yes, columns dealing with the former routinely garner more fury than those addressing the latter.

Anyone who suggests Americans abhor signs of subservience because they are familiar with the Declaration of Independence cannot be serious, and if he is serious, should not be taken seriously. Reading so much into a tilt of the frame exemplifies a flight from reason and reality into empty symbolism–as Rome burns.

As to the notion that two men holding hands is less subservient than a fleeting bow–heavens! Two men rubbing flesh is way worse than a representative of the US showing respect to another with a quick bow. The Japanese are constantly bowing at each other. So what!


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10 thoughts on “Updated: The Bow

  1. Doghouse

    I too think that much too big of a deal is being made over this. (At least he didn’t prostrate himself and kiss the guy’s feet.) He didn’t show disrespect or a lack of refinement, just the usual ignorance, which is actually an improvement.

    I don’t expect The Amateur to know protocol or…well, much of anything, really.

    I would rather have him bowing at Middle Eastern despots than trying to stimulate me to the poor house.

    But, alas, even while he’s gone we’ve got the numbskulls in DC trying to institute mandatory dole participation.

  2. DrMagnolias

    The issue of President Obama’s bow is not only one of protocol, but of symbolism. The bow/curtsy is a sign of subservience; we bow to God, or whatever we worship (debutantes curtsy to Society). No American, whether a private citizen or a government official, has any business bowing or curtsying as if he were a subject or is in some way subservient. The difference between Presidents Bush and Obama is that hand-holding carries with it a different symbolism. Hand-holding is a sign of friendship (and President Bush’s hand-holding with the Saudi Prince is certainly fair game for that reason), not a sign of subservience, which is what President Obama’s bow was.

    [You clearly did not read the post written, in which the folly of this “symbolism-cum-collectivism was addressed at length. You simply reassert what was critiqued.]

  3. DrMagnolias

    Respectfully, I did read and comprehend the post; I simply disagree with the critique of the symbolism.

  4. Lisa Krempasky

    Very astute economic question I have been asking myself for years. People do not substantially overpay for like items. There are other tangible or intangible factors at play. We may not like the factors, but they exist and have economic value. The way to equal pay is not to force our way into the men’s locker room, but to build our own locker room. Being what you are not only leads to greater perceptions of inequity.

  5. Flannel Avenger

    Re: Anger over the bowing…

    It is an American cultural issue. Americans are hard wired to go ballistic whenever somebody who has any government authority appears to bow to royalty.

    What we need to do is rather than point out articles about “Miss Manners” (as every news story I’ve read seems to do) is to try to remind the sheep why Americans have such a distaste for it – and maybe actually get them to read The Declaration of Independence.

    [The “sheep” should be reminded what liberty means, not what it has been replaced with and mistaken for; empty gestures.]

  6. Barbara Grant

    I believe part of the reason this “bow” is an issue is because we no longer hold first place in the international arena; therefore appearances and protocol become all important. If neocons like Ingraham and others really believe we are still Number One, why do they get upset over a gesture of courtesy?

    I think something has happened recently that has not happened in all my days: We’ve passed our zenith, and are now on the downhill slope.

  7. Madas Counter

    I’m glad that you can pretend as if you live in the 19th century. As a somewhat of a traditionalist myself, I sympathize, but you can’t possibly tell me that the president doesn’t represent you. You may not acknowledge that he does, but, if he screws up and the world comes-a-calling everyone, including yourself, is going to fall under that collectivist “American” title and face mob justice.

  8. Myron Pauli

    With our economy heading in the direction that the statists are taking us, Obama may soon be out with dark shades and a cane and a tin cup and bowing for a few valuable gold and silver coins. That would be more appropriate symbolism.

  9. robert

    “With our economy heading in the direction that the statists are taking us, Obama may soon be out with dark shades and a cane and a tin cup and bowing for a few valuable gold and silver coins.”

    Myron,
    Thank God for your humor during these troubled time. I check the blog several times a day for your great one liners –you have been on a roll of late. Keep it up I enjoy your posts very much.

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