The Blog

The Bow as "Protocol"

1:29 PM, Nov 15, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Politico reports that "A senior administration official said President Barack Obama was simply observing protocol when he bowed to Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko upon arriving at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo on Saturday."

Why won't that "senior administration official" come out from behind the curtain and make that assertion in his own name? Because it's nonsense. As these photos make clear, numerous heads of state and the former U.S. vice president didn't bow to the emperor; they shook hands. The New York Times criticized Bill Clinton in 1994 for almost bowing to the Japanese emperor.

We await the release of a State Department briefing paper that says it's "protocol" for an American president to bow to a Japanese emperor.