Friday, November 20, 2009

A Deep Bow

You have probably seen or heard of the footage of President Obama giving a "deep bow" to Japan's Emperor Akihito this past week. Conservative commentators were falling over each other to complain about how "inappropriate" and "demeaning" this was for an American president. Ah yes...the shame of it all! To show respect, to be dignified, to honor the customs of another country, these are the occupations of wimps! "But", some have said, " did you notice that the emperoer did not bow back? What about that"? To which anyone with even a passing knowledge of Japanese culture would respond..."did you know that it is an ancient Japanese tradition that the Emperor does not bow to anyone"?

The real American way I guess is just to do what ever the hell you want and consequences be damned. I am sure our previous president would have likely tried to give the Empress a backrub. I mean it worked so well with the German chancellor! (Google: Bush Merkl backrub).

Okay... I am being a little sarcastic, but seriously, what is wrong with our country when it's front page news about the "scandal" that has taken place when someone (admittedly a famous someone) is "caught" showing respect?

I just heard today that one major poll indicates Obama's approval ratings have slipped below 50%. Well, I have a theory as to why. People may say it's the health care crisis, or it's the bailouts and the still sluggish economy, or it's the effect of the fearmongering waged by Fox News. Well I have a different theory. The problem is that President Obama is actually a decent, thoughtful man. He has spent a lot of political capital trying to reach across the aisle and find common ground with his detractors. And for this he is being pilloried. Well, Mr. President, it's time to wake up and smell the coffee! I have to say I am big fan, and I think you should continue being a man of honor, integrity, and decency. But just know this: If you want to get re-elected you are going to have to be more of a....what's the word? Oh yeah: Jerk

Many people, it seems, are more comfortable with that type of politician.


theswearingchef said...

I didn't hear about the deep bow, since I don't watch much TV, and when I do, it's not the "news." It would be mildly interesting to know if the emperor is normally met by other world leaders with a bow, or if there is generally much variation in that protocol.

Regardless, I think the main fall out is the opportunity cost of the issue, that is, that by keeping everyone focused on a trivial issue that doesn't matter much, or influence any country's policy, the opportunity cost is everyone's obsession on this rather than education on a topic that is relevant and important. I agree on your point about Obama's willingness to reach out rather than attempt to bully and intimidate other countries, so in that sense, it does matter tremendously.

Obama’s ratings are down currently, but I don’t think that’s too important politically until the time of mid-term elections. The current slump is not unusual for a president this far into office, although at this point in his presidency, Bush II was abusing his office for sky-high political popularity in the shadow of 9-11. What matters most is how the major issues are dealt with, firstly the health care bill under debate. If that bill comes through with meaningful reform, it will be a huge boost to his presidency and poll numbers. One of the tougher issues will be how he handles the recession. Large unemployment numbers are bound to linger, and his options are limited given the size of the mostly-inherited national debt. I am hopeful that he will come up with some meaningful ways to deal with this. I personally have no idea what that would be.

Obama knows how to fight, or he wouldn’t have gotten this far. The time period of his presidency will continue to be very tough, and the outcome uncertain, but I think he’s the right person for that job. Eight years of the class clown was enough for me.

theswearingchef said...

Hmmm...can you see my first post? Zero comments according to the note at the bottom of the original post, as I was having an "identity crisis" when I was trying to post the last.

ML1959 said...

I agree with you Cursing Cook. No more clowns!