Friday, September 3, 2010

Time Horizons: Bowing

So, Mrs. P says in the comments:
All that bowing wasn't very honorable...

And again this fits into my theory.

My liberal, short-term and narrow focused, looks at a bow as insignificant. It didn't change the the power dynamics in any way. The US is still the superpower. It's still the most powerful nation on Earth. Obama didn't hurt his back. He was just being polite. So, who cares?

My conservative looks at it in horror because the president not only represents himself, but the rest of his countrymen. And not just his living countrymen, but past and future countrymen. While it was a simple human gesture with little immediate impact, his predecessors didn't bow, and it insults their memory to do so now. Furthermore, it sets a bad precedent for those who come after him.

Liberal, short-term and narrow focus = no big deal.
Conservative, long-term and broader focus = horror.


arethusa said...

I would of course say that it DOES have an immediate impact. Bowing to the Japanese emperor, titular ruler of another Westernized society, is not such a big deal and might fit with your theory. (Bowing to the mayor of Tampa is just stupid.) Bowing to the Saudi king sends an immediate message of American subservience to the Muslim world (whether they like the Saudis or not). The issue, again, isn't that Americans don't bow to kings. The issue is that heads of state do not adapt servile physical behaviors towards one another precisely because no state wants to appear lesser than another. When one does so, that creates instant damage, whether greater damage follows later or not.

Anonymous said...


Mrs. P

The Ancient said...

Americans should never bow to a foreign monarch -- unless obliged to do so by protocol.

And even then, it should hurt:

Of course, if it's a matter of a pretty face, one can always make an exception, even if one is President:

P.S. When Obama bowed to the Saudi king, I felt shock, revulsion and the certain knowledge that I was seeing something new and important about him that I hadn't suspected.

Alan Howe said...

Everyone knows you only bow to and kiss the Saudi King when he is your best buddy and he gives you a shiny new necklace. Be sure to watch the whole thing now.

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