The Row About Obama's Bow

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Ben Cohen
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On a state visit, President Obama decided to bow to Japan's Emperor. Surprise, surprise, the chicken hawk Right imploded, and are accusing the President of disgracing the United States (from the AP):

"I don't know why President Obama thought that was appropriate. Maybe he thought it would play well in Japan. But it's not appropriate for an American president to bow to a foreign one," said conservative pundit William Kristol speaking on the Fox News Sunday program, adding that the gesture bespoke a United States that has become weak and overly-deferential under Obama. Another conservative voice, Bill Bennett, said on CNN's "State of the Union" program: "It's ugly. I don't want to see it."

Of course, when Bush kissed and held hands with the Saudi Prince, Kristol and Bennet didn't have much to say:

http://dohiyimir.typepad.com/bush-abdulah.jpg

The criticism of Obama follows an entirely predictable pattern. Arm chair warriors like Kristol and Bennet believe strength derives from aggressive behavior and picking on the weak, so when politicians like Obama play a different game, they assume it to be a sign of weakness (I'd venture to say that this is most likely because Kristol and Bennet were probably bullied in high school, and have a massive inferiority complex). They are living out their fantasies of power in a safe environment behind a TV screen in the most powerful country on the planet, so can afford to be belligerent. Obama, on the other hand, clearly understands that true power comes from being humble, and has decided to carve a new image of America abroad. The U.S still has the big guns and the over sized military, but Obama is choosing not to rub everyone's faces in it. And so far, goodwill towards America has increased infinitely - a sign that humility is often more effective than arrogance.