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Obama's Asian misstep

There's been a lot of misguided criticism of President Obama's trip to Asia. You're upset that he bowed to the emperor of Japan? Get over it. Obama was being respectful -- which was in keeping with the tone of his trip. His overall message seemed to be that the United States values its relations with Asian nations and intends to be a presence in the region -- but a polite one, willing to listen as well as lecture. That's as it should be.

The president did make one remark, though, that made me wince. Speaking with NBC News, he rightly noted China's "unprecedented" economic progress since 1979, and then said: "One of the things I'm confident about is that when you start seeing economic freedom like that then political freedom starts, starts gearing up." This has been the operating assumption of U.S. presidents for many years, and it's time for a bit more skepticism. Since abandoning the Cultural Revolution and choosing a more pragmatic, quasi-capitalist path, China has seen more people move out of poverty than at any other time or place in history. Personal freedoms have expanded immeasurably: most Chinese today can marry whom they please, travel if they want and express just about any opinion among friends and family. Of course one personal freedom -- to have more than one child -- still does not exist.

And any challenge to the Communist Party, no matter how peaceful, is met with ferocity. Chinese citizens seeking political freedom are beaten and thrown in jail with hardly a pretense of due process. Those who try to protest, and even lawyers who represent such protesters, are jailed too. The repression proceeded even during Obama's visit; a brave human rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, was locked up after he asked to meet with the U.S. president. And it is at least plausible that the Internet, which President Bill Clinton -- like many others -- assumed would be the undoing of Chinese authoritarianism, instead will be a useful instrument for communist control. After all, China's rulers have managed pretty successfully to herd their people into approved and censored Web sites, while monitoring social networks that can be a tool for freedom but also a source of information for secret police.

Obama may of course be right. In other countries, including South Korea, the last stop on his Asia trip, political liberalization followed the emergence of a middle class. But it's too convenient to assume that the progression is inevitable. That's why I was glad to hear the president say in the same interview that "it's critical for the United States to be clear for what we stand for, why we consider things like freedom of expression, freedom of religion [to be] universal rights." He went on to say: "and if we do that, then I'm pretty confident that, whatever the strategies of the day-to-day Chinese government may be, that freedom ultimately will win out."

The italics are mine -- because the assumption of responsibility implied by that little word is so welcome.

By Fred Hiatt  | November 23, 2009; 12:00 AM ET
Categories:  Hiatt  | Tags:  Fred Hiatt  
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Comments

NO, HIATT, YOU GET OVER IT! SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU WERE POSTED TO JAPAN FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS YOU THINK THAT OBAMA'S TOO LOW, SUBSERVIENT BOW IS ACCEPTABLE-IT IS NOT! IT IS NEVER ACCEPTABLE FOR A US PRESIDENT TO "BOW" TO A FOREIGN LEADER, I DON'T GIVE A DAMN WHETHER THE PRES. IS IN JAPAN OR NOT-IF HE THINKS JAPAN IS GOING TO CHANGE THEIR MINDSET ABOUT US BASES SIMPLY BECAUSE OBAMA IS SHOWING HUMBLENESS-THAT IS THE MOST GD NAIVE THOUGHT EVER-BUT I DON'T DOUBT, HIATT, YOU THINK THAT!

I'M NOT EVEN SURE THAT IT DOESN'T VIOLATE STATE DEPT. PROTOCOL FOR A PRESIDENT TO DO SUCH AN ASININE THING! HE SHOOK HANDS AND BOWED-A BIG STUPID FAUX PAS! HE SHOULD HAVE SHOOK HANDS, AS EVERY OTHER WESTERN LEADER DOES WHO DOESN'T FEEL ANY SORT OF NEUROTIC NEED TO PROVE SOMETHING TO THE WORLD THAT THIS PRESIDENCY IS DIFFERENT-OLD PRESIDENT BAD, NEW PRESIDENT GOOD-THAT'S THE BIGGEST FICTION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION IS PRESENTLY ENGAGED IN! THE REST OF THE WORLD IS NOT GOING TO BE MOVED ONE IOTA BY OBAMA'S HUMBLENESS OR HIS STARPOWER-THEY ARE GOING TO PURSUE THEIR OWN AGENDAS-AND I FEEL VERY STRONGLY, THAT THIS COUNTRY IS IN A MUCH WEAKER POSITION INTERNATIONALLY THAN IT HAS BEEN IN THE ENTIRE POST WWII PERIOD! I DID NOT FEEL THAT WAY ABOUT PRES. BUSH WHEN HE LEFT OFFICE-HE HAD TOO MANY FOREIGN POLICY SUCCESSES WITH HIS FOREIGN COUNTERPARTS-THE MISSILE SHIELD PLAN, THE CONTINUATION OF OPEC POLICY TO TIE THE PRICE OF OIL TO DOLLARS INSTEAD OF ANOTHER CURRENCY-MANY MANY THAT PEOPLE DON'T THINK OF OR REALIZE-THINGS BUSH WAS DOING TOWARDS THE END OF HIS PRESIDENCY WHERE HE REALLY ASSERTED HIMSELF AS A LEADER AND THE REST OF HIS COLLEAGUES WENT ALONG WITH HIM!

THAT AIN'T OBAMA! THE WORLD KNOWS OBAMA IS NAIVE, AND THEY ARE PLAYING HIM LIKE A VIOLIN!

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

Hiatt's only gripe is that the Chinese can only have one child?

And somehow you can equate that to being a misstatement on the President's part?

You need to get out more Hiatt!


Posted by: helloisanyoneoutthere | November 23, 2009 1:16 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Hiatt, as so often, is too simplistic in his "analysis." The internet, has some reporters have written, has and is being used in China to express limited dissent, as well as in some instances leading to changes in government policies or modifying government actions. Many, if not most Chinese, are able to substantially access supposed restricted sites.

Mr. Hiatt and president Obama need to read the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. These universal rights include far more than the two cited by Obama.

Universal rights should include freedom of government sanctioned physical abuse, including torture, widely practiced by authoritarian regimes. Yet most conservatives have supported the use of torture and opposed government prosecution of officials in the previous administration that were guilty of human rights abuses. Obama nobly declares torture is wrong, but, in effect is taking part in a cover-up, by refusing to prosecute wrongdoing that occurred within several years.

Obama, administration officials and most pundits therefore have no credibility in criticizing human rights abuses in other countries when they support or wish to forget human rights abuses in this country.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | November 23, 2009 1:44 AM | Report abuse

when you came in with a hat in hand, it is hard to speak up.

Posted by: infoshop | November 23, 2009 2:27 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Hiatt, respect is a two way affair. How come the Japanese Emperor did not reciprocate Obama's gesture by bowing to him? Obama has only drawn ridicule and made himself a laughing stock by his bowing gestures, first to the Saudi King and now to the Japanese Emperor. No wonder, the Chinese practically insulted him during his trip.

It is high time that Obama starts showing respect to the office is elected too i.e. the President of the United States who is also supposed to be the leader of the free world.

For related comments, feel free to check out my blog: www.thekoolheads.blogspot.com

Posted by: kisna | November 23, 2009 2:40 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand why it is so unacceptable for a US president to bow to a foreign leader whose culture mandates bowing as a symbol of peace and respect. Bowing is such a necessary part of everyday Japanese etiquette that it would equate to a business handshake here in the US; I absolutely don't comprehend all the idiotic and petty outrage over this one little gesture. There are more important topics to argue here (such as what the two leaders actually discussed, perhaps?).

And as for Obama being the "leader of the free world", what exactly is the "free world" anyway? We Americans seem to be the only ones who believe that we lead, have lead, and will continue to lead every single other democracy on this planet: an implausible fact.

Posted by: chebitts | November 23, 2009 3:15 AM | Report abuse

Amazingly, I find myself in agreement with Fred Hiatte, at least on one issue. Get over the bow, people. It is a sign of respect and is highly appreciated in Japan and other Asian countries.

Now, having experienced some Japanese culture I can tell you that bowing is done while maintaining eye contact with your host/guest. So, Obama's staffers should have better prepared him.

But you can never train a president not to throw up during dinner, as Bush Senior did, or walk/slam into unopened doors, as Bush Junior did.

Since we're only talking etiquette here, the right wingers should just bite their tongues on this one.

Posted by: Single_Payer | November 23, 2009 3:26 AM | Report abuse

So, "this has been the operating assumption of US Presidents for many years", this means that Fred Hiatt criticized George W Bush for the same thing then, right?

Let me just see if I can find that.

Still looking.

Funny how all of these right wing conservatives found their critical voice on January of this year. Quite a phenomenon.

And ahem, by the way, do you really wish that a country with a billion people were having large numbers of births per family?

That's one of the restrictions I hope that China keeps. Otherwise, these issues you raise will be the least of our worries.

Of course, for anyone not going out of his way to find ways to complain about Obama, they already are.

Posted by: Billy_Pilgrim | November 23, 2009 6:11 AM | Report abuse

By the way: Good job on acknowledging that the President's demeanor was simply respectful, and scolding those trying to make it a scandal of some sort.

Credit where credit is due.

Posted by: Billy_Pilgrim | November 23, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Saturday Night Live show us in jest the truth about Obama's China trip. It is hilarious, perhaps the funniest skit ever. If you want to laugh watch it. http://www.businessinsider.com/saturday-night-live-rips-obama-over-china-trip-spending-and-the-deficit-2009-11

Posted by: mharwick | November 23, 2009 6:31 AM | Report abuse

What is of more concern than what the author points out is that China is likely to become the worlds leading power. This after our recent economic showing. Forget about freedome just show me the money!

Posted by: artg | November 23, 2009 7:12 AM | Report abuse

A bow is a bow!


Deep waist bows to totalitarian rulers & titular heads of State are demeaning to our country!

Obama is not representing himself, he is representing us.

What will it take before he gets it?

That SNL absolutely gross but hysterical satire that skewered Obama's China Junket
could be the clarion call.

It may be the call for everyone to wake
up and ask Obama for a "kiss" because of what he is doing to this Country!

Posted by: Concerned14 | November 23, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse

Only fools make a big deal over the bowing thing. This is something the Japanese do all the time. The real issue is addressing the terrible trade inbalance America has with China. With virtually no minimum wage, no labor unions, currency manipulation, and state support of export driven industries, America is being taken to the cleaners. We have lost our entire manufacturing base. This is the real problem, America now owes China $1 trillion. And in today's world, that's what counts. America's bases in Japan and Pacific Fleet pale in comparison to the real power of today, which is economic, and where we are losing to China.

Posted by: magnifco1000 | November 23, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

WRITING IN ALL CAPS MAKES MY POST SEEM IMPORTANT AMIRITE?

Posted by: charlesbakerharris | November 23, 2009 8:29 AM | Report abuse


The big story out of the Asia trip was the sad state of US media.

The US reporting was so vapid, so silly, so horse-race and US-obsessed that people all over the world noticed, and commented.

This column is a good example. Mr. Hiatt didn't bother to speak with a single person who knows anything at all about China.

We may have reached a new low. Our national media are now an international embarrassment.


Posted by: kay5 | November 23, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Why don't we stop trading with commie China? Then, we'd get our jobs back, but that won't happen. The wealthy class that Hiatt carries water for wants to bankrupt the American worker through lost jobs and low wages, so, you'll never hear from Hiatt that we should stop trading with commie China.

Hiatt's loyalty is to the capitalist class. Plain and simple. I wish someone on WaPo cared about the working people, but you'll never find that.

Posted by: santafe2 | November 23, 2009 8:44 AM | Report abuse

Bowing is a sign or respect. The loud mouths who contend that an American President should never bow, forget that foreign leaders usually bow to the American President or follow what is custom to the United States out of respect. When has this nation become so arrogant and disrepectful?

The people who have a problem with an American President bowing out of respect are the Americans that have a superiority complex. American listens to no one and the rest of the world is beneath the U.S. They may have worked in the past but in a global economy with U.S. companies operating in foreign markets to reduce cost and expand business, that is a recipe for failure. You don't give respect, you will not get respect.

The U.S. cannot fight a "global" war alone. To think so is ridiculous. The former idiot in charge proved that "Cowboy diplomacy" does not work. It is time we try a different approach, tough and respectful.

Posted by: ajackson3 | November 23, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Hiatt you are nothing but a neoconservative who has repeatedly stabbed the US in the back. Go to hell you pig-eyed sack of crap.

Posted by: artmann11 | November 23, 2009 8:53 AM | Report abuse

"A bow is a bow!


Deep waist bows to totalitarian rulers & titular heads of State are demeaning to our country!

Obama is not representing himself, he is representing us.

What will it take before he gets it?"

Blow it out yer ass, retard. Bush can french kiss a Saud and you rightwankers have a collective orgasm.

Posted by: artmann11 | November 23, 2009 8:56 AM | Report abuse

The bowing incident is a major gaffe. While you say it was about respect, it had a powerful message for all nations to see--the US is becoming subservient to others. I am very afraid the path this administration is taken.

Posted by: Acquisano | November 23, 2009 9:01 AM | Report abuse

I didn't see the Emperor of Japan bow to Obama in response. So, if bowing is a sign of respect, then...hmmm.

Posted by: itizgina | November 23, 2009 9:02 AM | Report abuse

"And any challenge to the Communist Party, no matter how peaceful, is met with ferocity."

Ha! You think the Communists are ferocious, ask Fox News about the Obama Administration!

Posted by: 2009frank | November 23, 2009 9:03 AM | Report abuse

You stupid people who think this bow is acceptable because "the Japanese do it" just don't get it, do you? As one observer noted, as I noted, the Emperor DID NOT BOW BACK-IN OTHER WORDS, HE WAS ACCEPTING THE FACT THAT OBAMA WAS SHOWING SUBSERVIENCE TO HIM-IN THAT OVERLY LOW BOW-IT WAS OUTRAGEOUS TO ME!

And Hiatt-you know, as someone who spends as much time in Asia as I do, that IF I GET OUTRAGED ABOUT IT-THERE'S A REASON-IT'S SIMPLY NOT DONE-YOU SHOW ME ANOTHER LEADER-MEDVEDEV, PUTIN, MERKEL, GORDON BROWN, SARKOZY WHO WOULD EVER HAVE THOUGHT OF BOWING, AND BOWING THAT LOW TO THE EMPEROR-IT WAS DISGUSTING-OBAMA THOUGHT IT SHOWED POLITENESS-BUT IT IS NOT ABOUT WHAT OBAMA THINKS!-HE REPRESENTS THE 300 MILLION IN THIS COUNTRY, AND A LOW BOW OF SUBSERVIENCE -IS UTTERLY UNACCEPTABLE-IT CHANGES NOTHING ABOUT HOW THINGS ARE DONE-ABSOLUTELY NOTHING-AND THAT FACT IS NOT LOST ON THOSE TO WHOM HE BOWS!

I CAN'T GET OVER HOW NOT ANOTHER WESTERN LEADER WOULD EVER EVEN THINK, EVER EVEN THINK OF DOING THAT-AND OBAMA SOMEHOW THINKS HE SCORES POINTS FOR THAT-WELL, WE'LL SEE IN 2012, WON'T WE?

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

HEY!!!, BO, remember me? I'm the guy who wants you to bring all the troops home from Afghanistan and Ewrack TODAY!!!, NOW!!!, IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!! Four more soldiers died in Afghanistan, three on Sunday and one today. Do one thing right before your miserable presidency is over in three-plus years. Can you imagine what Christmas is going to be like for the families of these four young men. TFL, Ken

Posted by: kentigereyes | November 23, 2009 9:09 AM | Report abuse

Fred, you have too much time on your hands. Get a hobby. One that doesn't include sharing your opinions.

Posted by: st50taw | November 23, 2009 9:11 AM | Report abuse

I WANT TO SAY ONE MORE THING-AS AN AMERICAN WHO IS IN ANOTHER CULTURE, IN ANY ASIAN CULTURE WHERE THEY BOW TO EACH OTHER-MORE THAN JUST JAPAN, MYANMAR, THAILAND, VIETNAM, YOU BOW TO EACH OTHER AS WELL-YOU ARE SIMPLY EXPECTED TO BOW/NOD YOUR HEAD BRIEFLY, ACKNOWLEDGING THE BOW-YOU DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, BEND DOWN ALMOST TO KISS THE EMPEROR'S SHOES WHEN YOU ARE A FOREIGNER, BUT PARTICULARLY NOT WHEN YOU ARE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES-IT'S NOT DONE! HE ALSO SHOOK HANDS WITH HIM-WHY THE HELL DID HE DO THAT IF HE'S ALREADY BOWED DOWN TO THE WAIST TO HIM?

OBAMA IS SO UNSOPHISTICATED.

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"The bowing incident is a major gaffe. While you say it was about respect, it had a powerful message for all nations to see--the US is becoming subservient to others. I am very afraid the path this administration is taken."

you're so full of crap you have flowers growing out yer ears.

Posted by: artmann11 | November 23, 2009 9:16 AM | Report abuse

I generally agree with Hiatt-this a rare occurrence since he is usually a cheerleader for Isreali war crimes. What I actually chuckle at is those who think that a courtesy of a bow has anything to do with our national image. Among all the issues relating to his Asian trip that has to be the one of least significance. I bet those who think it is a big deal grew up in the South. Read Malcomb Gladwell's book Outliers for insight into the "culture of honor" which contributes to native southerners obsession with trivial issues.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | November 23, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Bowing and shaking hands at the same time is clumsy and wrong!!
Obama might as well go down on a knee and lick the shoes!!

Standing alone on "The Wall" was also a grave mistake. China always insures that the masses never get to mix with the elites!
And, don't mention the communist party officials put in the town hall meeting!! They were hardly ordinary, and very well scripted!!

Posted by: jjcrocket2 | November 23, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Freddy you never seem to reach the limits of your stupidity. You make critical remarks about Obama while you kissed bush's ring and his butt during the reign of Georgie the Terrible.

You probably wet his lap when he cuddled your lap dog belly while you yipped your praises of your master.

Posted by: notaneoclown | November 23, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I never come away with anything substantial when I read Fred's columns.

Posted by: rlj1 | November 23, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

We need to remind ourselves about the attitude we take with us to meetings with Chinese and Japanese leaders: imagine you going to meet your banker, already owing the bank thousands, with a negative income balance sheet and asking for another loan. That is our position. The Communists have become our bankers. There is a price involved. We can't lecture them on how they should comport themselves.

Posted by: bitterpill8 | November 23, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

When he entered office, US President Barack Obama promised to inject US foreign policy with a new tone of respect and diplomacy. His recent trip to Asia, however, showed that it's not working. A shift to Bush-style bluntness may be coming

Posted by: charlietuna6661 | November 23, 2009 10:09 AM | Report abuse

When he entered office, President Barack Obama promised to inject US foreign policy with a new tone of respect and diplomacy. His recent trip to Asia, however, showed that it's not working. A shift to Bush-style bluntness may be coming.

Posted by: jahoby | November 23, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

It's hard to understand how "bowing" or showing respect to a head of state or anyone who represents a foreign government is a bad thing. Didn't any of these complainers get taught respect?

One thing's for sure - if you don't give respect, you'll never get any.

Hiatt can't bring himself to do anything but undermine my President. And all the while he was a cheerleader for Cheney-Bush, I couldn't understand that either..

Posted by: rowens1 | November 23, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Putting limits on the numbers of children the people can have is not so political as it is practical, for the world's most populous nation.

China is ahead of the world in population control. The world's human population is increasing at a tremendous rate. More and more land will have to be turned over to agriculture to feed the people. And all efforts to control the concomitant pollutants and emissions that poison our lands, waters and air, will be futile unless the world starts to get serious about runaway population, soon.

I agree with Mr. Hiatt's premise that this Presidential tour was more as emissary than negotiator. How could a president conduct serious foreign policy in a highly public whirlwind tour? Rather, he would set the stage for further serious, and private, meetings.

As for Mr. Obama bowing to the Emperor of Japan, Japanese custom requires that bows are met with bows. The President and the Emperor bowed to one another, not only in respect for their persons, but in respect for the others nation.

And that was it it should have been.

Posted by: paultaylor1 | November 23, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

Hey, Hiatt...

No, I will not "..get over it..." that our naif of a president made an absolute fool of himself in front of the whole world by his bowing to the Saudi and Japanese heads of state. A smile and a nod of the head would've been appropriate. Particularly no handshake...that's lese majeste. Unfortunately for us Americans, in the eyes of his Asian audience the old fashioned and presumably outdated idea of the colonial "foreign devil" bowing to a superior is still current in the minds of too many in Asia.
Appearances and "face" trump all in Asia...and, our ideas of "face" aren't the same as Asian traditional applications.
All in all, Obama's half-***ed idea of an application of "protocol" was humiliating to the Office of the President of the United States...which trumps the likes of an individual Obama. If the current State Department thinks that the modern idea of a low bow from the waist is modern "respect", the Japanese and Chinese official equivalents are still in the Admiral Perry era. Resistance to change is a hallmark on the other side of the Pacific.


Posted by: CharlesGriffith1 | November 23, 2009 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 1:03 AM | Report abuse

================================
Should be reported for Mental Abuse for illogicl and no facts.

Bowing is a sign of respect..

Something you Neocons know know nothing about.. except you like to commmit war on innocent nations..

Get others to fight you wars.

You do not join the Military and instead drinkg Tea with yoru other quisling Neos.

Then you do not pay attention to the management of the war.

Or completely forget that you put us in the war.

OR evern the vague orignial reason why you started it in the first place.

AND of course it is everyone elses fault.

Go President Obama..


Please start the Draft so we can Recruit all the Neocosn and have them put their arses in the line of fire.

ISA

Posted by: Issa1 | November 23, 2009 11:01 AM | Report abuse

EXACTLY, CHARLES-THE POSTER ABOVE CD1944, AND OTHERS WHO THINK THIS EMPHASIS ON OBAMA'S BOW IS "TRIVIAL" SHOW EXACTLY HOW NAIVE THEY ARE ABOUT "PROTOCOL" AND WHAT IS ACCEPTABLE-THE WRONG SORT OF PROTOCOL, A PICTURE, AN IMAGE, OF SOMETHING THAT MAY APPEAR VERY INNOCUOUS TO SOME, CAN LITERALLY QUITE LITERALLY BRING DOWN A GOVERNMENT!

AND THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS, HE NOW ONLY BOWED FROM THE WAIST, HE ALSO SHOOK HANDS, AND THE EMPEROR DID NOT, REPEAT DID NOT BOW BACK TO HIM-HE JUST SMILED!

THE CONCEPT OF "FACE" IN ASIA IS EVERYTHING-OBAMA SHOWED HE WAS HUMBLE AND SUBSERVIENT-THAT IS VERY VERY VERY UNSEEMLY AND INAPPROPRIATE FOR THE LEADER OF THE WORLD'S ONLY SUPERPOWER-THE CONCEPT OF "STRENGTH" IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD, HIATT, IS ALL IMPORTANT-PEOPLE IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD ADMIRED AND STILL DO ADMIRE PRES. BUSH BECAUSE HE DID PROJECT THE IMAGE OF A STRONG AMERICA ABROAD, SOMEONE WHO WAS GOING TO WAR TO RID THE WORLD OF RUTHLESS DICTATORS-RIGHT OR WRONG-AND I WAS NOT A SUPPORTER OF THE IRAQ WORLD-THIS WAR PLAYED AND STILL DOES PLAY VERY WELL IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD-BELIEVE IT OR NOT-IT DOES!

AND OBAMA SEEMS QUITE UNCOMPREHENDING THAT HIS SHOWING OF HUMBLENESS, AND SUBSERVIENCE-HIS NAIVETE ABOUT ASIA-DOESN'T CUT IT. HE'S MAKING THE US LOOK LIKE SOME LIMP-WRISTED, EFFETE EUROPEAN-HE IS MAKING THE US LOOK UN-AMERICAN-AND THAT COULD PROVE QUITE DISASTROUS FOR HIM IN 2012.

REMEMBER, WHEN A US PRESIDENT OR ANY WORLD LEADER IS ABROAD, A PHOTO, A GESTURE, MEANS EVERYTHING-IT IS ENDLESSLY INTERPRETED-IT IS PREGNANT WITH MEANING. AND IF THE POSTERS ON THIS BOARD AND FRED HIATT ARE NOT INSIGHTFUL ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND THAT OBAMA'S BOW WAS OBSEQUIOUS IN NATURE, AND MADE THE US LOOK WEAK, THEY HAVE NO BUSINESS COMMENTING ON THINGS THEY CLEARLY DON'T UNDERSTAND!

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

REMEMBER SOMETHING HIATT, AND PARTICULARLY, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION-THIS PRESIDENCY THING? IT'S NOT ABOUT THE CULT OF OBAMA, IT REALLY REALLY ISN'T! IT'S ABOUT OBAMA REPRESENTING THE UNITED STATES-THE VALUES OF THIS COUNTRY, ITS DEMOGRAPHIC, ITS TRADITIONS-IT'S NOT ABOUT WHAT HE BELIEVES LOOKS GOOD, OR WILL PLAY WELL TO THE WORLD- IT'S NOT ABOUT THAT AT ALL-AND AT ANY RATE, OBAMA'S EFFETE AND SPECIOUS GESTURES DON'T ADVANCE US FOREIGN POLICY GOALS ONE IOTA-THEY REALLY DON'T! LIKE I SAID ON A PREVIOUS POST, HELL, ALL THE WORLD'S LEADERS LOVE OBAMA, WHAT'S NOT TO LIKE ABOUT HIS ENGAGING PERSONALITY? BUT NO ONE GIVES A DAMN ABOUT PERSONALITY WHEN WE'RE TALKING MACHTPOLITIK AND REALPOLITIK-IT DOESN'T MATTER A D AMN!!!

IT'S ABOUT LEADERSHIP, STUPID! LEADERSHIP-A QUALITY, A JOB EXPERIENCE THAT OBAMA SIMPLY DOES NOT HAVE! HE WAS NEVER THE LEADER OF ANYTHING, AND I BELIEVE THAT IS PARTICULARLY TRUE IN HIS MARRIAGE-THAT IS WHAT I FIND SO TROUBLING ABOUT OUR PRESIDENT-HIS UTTER LACK OF EXPERIENCE IN WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A LEADER ON A NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL LEVEL-SAY WHAT YOU WILL ABOUT OUR RECENT PREVIOUS PRESIDENTS-THEY ALL HAD EXTENSIVE EXECUTIVE NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE-OBAMA IS LEARNING ON THE JOB, AND WE ARE NOT BENEFITING FROM HIS OJT IN THIS INCREDIBLY COMPLEX AND DIFFICULT JUNCTURE IN AMERICAN HISTORY-NOT AT ALL!

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

No Hiatt, YOU get over it. obumble's bow was a diplomatic blunder, and underscored his complete lack of sophistication. But the bow's subtext is a message of subservience on the part of the USA. Just because barry and michelle are ashamed of this nation doesn't mean the rest of us are. And we resent his "Bad America" schtick.

Posted by: wmpowellfan | November 23, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

A bow is a bow!


Deep waist bows to totalitarian rulers & titular heads of State are demeaning to our country!

Obama is not representing himself, he is representing us.

What will it take before he gets it?

That SNL absolutely gross but hysterical satire that skewered Obama's China Junket
could be the clarion call.

It may be the call for everyone to wake
up and ask Obama for a "kiss" because of what he is doing to this Country!
______________________

You know you people are so bent about a BOW to a Japanese GUY.

SORRY but CHIMPIE FRENCH KISSING AND HOLDING HANDS WITH A PRINCE FROM A COUNTRY WHO SENT 20 BOMBERS TO KNOCK DOWN THE WTC AND THE PENTAGON IS WORSE.

YEAH CHIMPIE KISSED A PRICE - and we are all paying for it through lives and money while HIS FRIENDS in SAUDI land and CHENEY/RUMSFELD WORLD GET RICH.

It never ever is a bad thing to show some modicum of respect which is what OBAMA did.

BUT UGLY AMERICANS have no pride or respect for anything. HENCE OUR COUNTRY IS IN WONDERFUL STATE and we wage war all over the dam place.

Posted by: kare1 | November 23, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Actually, kare, although I'm a Democrat (yes, I REALLY am!) I have to say that Bush's Saudi relations go back, way way back to his father-a close ally of the House of Saud. It is significant and beneficial that the Saudi king has such a long history of good relations with the Bush family, because....when Bush was there in 2008-he was able to convince the Saudi king, then head of OPEC, to NOT diversify currencies when pegging the price of oil to OPEC-this was a little mentioned but hugely signficant foreign policy coup for Pres. Bush-Iran wanted OPEC to diversify to euros, yen, etc. and based on the strength of Bush's familial relationship with the House of Saud, he was able to counter that growing chorus to diversify, a move which was distinctly in the American economy's favor-and still is-the Saudis are on this country's side in Iran-due, in no small part, to the strength of Pres. Bush's relationship with the Saudis, and the the fact that those friendly countries of the Middle East got a huge hardware incentive to join with the US in its bid to contain the Islamic Republic.

So, with someone who was as experienced a leader as Bush-and who got signicant concessions from a leader who's family he has known since he was young-IS AN UTTERLY DIFFERENT SITUATION THAN OBAMA'S BOWING TO THE SAUDI KING LIKE A NITWIT-HE IS A NEW PRESIDENT-HE MUST PROJECT AN IMAGE OF STRENGTH-HE BOWS TO NO ONE!

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama knows how to belittle the United States.
The democrat party is the evil party they are for homosexuals and killing unborn humans. Using our tax dollars to kill unborn humans is in the health care bill. The democrats just passed a bill to protect ungodly homosexuals by tacking it on the defense bill to supply our troops. THE DEMOCRATS PARTY IS THE EVIL PARTY.
Late-term abortionist Leroy Carhart was standing with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi when she announced her new "health care" bill. He wants to make sure that there will be taxpayer-funded abortions, including partial birth abortions. Few understand that the United States is one of only a handful of nations in which abortion is a major industry. Germany has one-third the abortions as does the

Posted by: Bill1776 | November 23, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Bill-I'm moved to say, you're ONE SICK EFF'ER.

Posted by: schmetterlingtoo | November 23, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Sometimes art encapsulates a situation better than anything else. Last night, noted American Idol performer and Democrat, Adam Lamberton gave a stirring performance at the American Music Awards which symbolized Obama's Asian Trip as well as his foreign policy at large. If one googles the images you'll see what I mean. America is represented by the kneeling dancer.

Posted by: maxtel1910 | November 23, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse


I wince every time I drive past a Wal-Mart.

Perhaps Obama's comment tells some in China that one day they're going to have to adopt more democratic ideals? Of course that could still be a hundred years from now...

Posted by: tony_in_Durham_NC | November 23, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

It's sad and it should set off alarm bells.

obama has bowed to muslims and communists but wouldn't even wear a United States flag pin on his lapel until he was bullied into it.

For all of his speechifying talk one needs only to observe his actions to see where his loyalties really lie.

Posted by: tjmlrc | November 23, 2009 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Hiatt like his neocon and AIPAC shills Gerson and Krauthamer is a little-johnny-one-note unable to write about anything intelligent other than bashing Obama.

Posted by: coloradodog | November 23, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Apparently the Huckabees never attended a course for international business relations.
The Japanese bow to each other as a matter of respect. There warn't no book learnin' 'bout them fori'n countries in Crawford or at Liberty University.

Posted by: coloradodog | November 23, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

If there is one person in this United States that deserves to be bashed it's obama.

Posted by: tjmlrc | November 23, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Hiatt,

We are bartering away America's future by following a mythic belief in Chinese change of heart. The Chinese have been taking us for suckers and we have stood by and let it happen. The bottom line is that we need to start evening the playing field. Trade needs to get more balanced. If the remimbi will not float, impose a tariff to even it out. If human rights are not supported then tax it. If quality issues affect American citizens and it is not possible to trace or retrieve the (punitive) damages impose a tariff. The list goes on.

Obama has done NONE of the above. It is illusionary and delusional to hope that China will support us on Iran and Afghanistan (the reasons that I am expecting drove Obama's behaviour). Eventually we will bankrupt the nation, and all those words will sound hollow.

I am not inherently a protectionist. However, if there is nothing for American's to do, we cannot be a player in anything. The status quo is NOT sustainable.

Posted by: nikhilkumar_99 | November 23, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

"Obama says Asia trip about jobs – posted 11/23/09
By Scott Wilson
"But above all," he said, "I spoke with leaders in every nation I visited about what we can do to sustain this economic recovery and bring back jobs and prosperity for our people."
Obama said economic recovery would depend on U.S. consumers living within their means and a more responsible government fiscal policy. He said "a greater emphasis on exports" would also lead to growth, estimating that a 5 percent increase in exports to Asia Pacific nations would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the United States.
Those ideas will be among the topics discussed during the "jobs summit" that Obama plans to convene at the White House early next month. While asking for any "demonstrably good idea" to create jobs, Obama warned that the labor market's recovery will be slow.
"There is no forum or policy that can bring [back] all the jobs we've lost overnight," he said. "But even though it will take time, I can promise you this: we are moving in the right direction.""
-------------------------------------------
The above is a quote from Mr. Obama's talk in Asia. What planet does this man live on? Why is he discussing US jobs and economic issues in Asia when the problems are here in the US. Yes, many of the job related problems are caused by outsourcing of jobs to some of these countries, but he needs to be HERE talking to US business owners about how to get these jobs back here and rebuild our economy. it is NOT going to be rebuilt by having more and more goods made in China, Japan, Thailand and a myriad other countries -- they need to be HERE in the US!! Why can't anyone see that. The trade balance is so out of wack that I don't know how it will ever get back on an even keel. I don't want my appliances made in China or my clothing or my sheets and pillow cases and towels. I would like to see the good old USA label come back on things made here. Trade with other countries, yes, but in a sensible manner. Everything is so lopsided towards foreign countries and Mr. O and his czars don't seem to have a clue about it! IMHO

Posted by: nancycrichton | November 23, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

When he entered office, US President Barack Obama promised to inject US foreign policy with a new tone of respect and diplomacy. His recent trip to Asia, however, showed that it's not working. A shift to Bush-style bluntness may be coming.

Posted by: jahoby | November 23, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Various political posters from recent Obama and Clinton campaigns have a striking and immediately noticeable resemblance to old school communist propaganda posters.
Try reading "Propaganda: The Formation of Man's Attitude" by Jacques Ellul. The similarities between the propaganda tactics of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Obama are very interesting. In addition, you should look up an article that describes the psychological need of the youth of post-modernity to follow a charismatic leader. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Posted by: jahoby | November 23, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Various political posters from recent Obama and Clinton campaigns have a striking and immediately noticeable resemblance to old school communist propaganda posters.
Try reading "Propaganda: The Formation of Man's Attitude" by Jacques Ellul. The similarities between the propaganda tactics of Mao, Stalin, Hitler, and Obama are very interesting. In addition, you should look up an article that describes the psychological need of the youth of post-modernity to follow a charismatic leader. Mmm, mmm, mmm.

Posted by: jahoby | November 23, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

====================================

WOW.. you Neocons who never fought a war you started..

Then compare four dynamic leaders with heresay....each who had different Intent and in different times and circumstances.

You are Propaganda...!!
YOu are a "Mind of the Willing"
YOU are an Idiot!.!

Go President Obama
Stay the course

ISA

Posted by: Issa1 | November 23, 2009 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Just like any country,any out-of-bound challenge to the authority of any country is forcebly suppress. USA suppresses any Al Qaeda or Taliban connections, trashing freedom of expression, religious right and human right. China is no exception, specially when there are so many anti-China governments and organizations around the world, such as run-away Taiwan, independent minded Dalai Lama, independent-minded Rebiya Kadeer and USA.

Posted by: thmak | November 23, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

To the all-caps person: Nixon bowed to the Emperor of Japan. Look up the photo on the net. Obama's bow was wrong (no handshake+bow at same time), but the idea it shouldn't happen at all is stupid.

As for China's mistreatment of its people, sounds like we are on the road to emulating their example one day. Let's see what the next GOP regime brings for our country. A bit of Guantanamo at home is probably just what our "security" requires.

Posted by: Matthew_DC | November 23, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

To Nikhilkumar: If US allow its dollar to slide, fix the excahnge rate with it; If US doesn't persecute US human right violators, sue them in the World Court.

Posted by: thmak | November 23, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Bush did no wrong.
Obama does no right.
Wow. You're a real genius Hiatt.
I can't understand why you don't run for office.
Better yet, I can't understand why you're not out leading a patrol in the Helmand province or driving in a convoy in Iraq.
Oh yeah, like the rest of your neocon brethren you're YELLOW.

Posted by: TOMHERE | November 23, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Not a single other world leader bowed to the emperor. The emperor did not bow in return. As far as I can tell, Obama is beneath the rest of the world, and clueless to the standards of behavior for diplomacy.

Regarding Obama's quote "it's critical for the United States to be clear for what we stand for, why we consider things like freedom of expression, freedom of religion [to be] universal rights."

This quote rings very hollow indeed when he refuses to meet with the Dalai Lama, or insist that townhalls he holds in China be broadcast.

It is very easy to talk about standing up for human rights. It is much harder to actually insist through your actions on human rights. Obama has done a lot of talking, but has not backed any of it up.

This is why he is bowing to the emperor, to let the rest of the world know that he is nice and submissive, and will be no threat to them.

Posted by: Wiggan | November 23, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

"It's sad and it should set off alarm bells.

obama has bowed to muslims and communists but wouldn't even wear a United States flag pin on his lapel until he was bullied into it.

For all of his speechifying talk one needs only to observe his actions to see where his loyalties really lie."


You are a piece of sheit liar. I bet you even claim to be a Christian.

Posted by: artmann11 | November 23, 2009 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Actually Mao’s Cultural Revolution was going on with full force when anti-Communist Nixon embraced Chinese Communists to counter Russian Soviets. A bit more than skepticism on part of US Presidents is in order about possibility of Osama’s ’freedom’ to win out in dictatorial China (since word ‘Communist China’ is not fashionable anymore in ‘politically correct’ American news media) after exposure to 37 years of Western democracy. China can very well develop in to Ayan Rand’s ’all powerful’ State.

Witness how Western democracies give lip service to Dalai Lama’s Tibet or suppression of all political movements, freedom of speech and internet censorship while China is still maintaining tight control over China‘s economy even with its capitalist mask.

If anything, China is developing into a world class feudal lord who has control over the world economy. China has started with US - US businesses are hooked to huge profits that cheap Chinese products generate for them as a walk through any Walmart, Sears or Home Depot filled with Chinese consumer products proves and US government is hooked to huge investments that Chinese government makes in US treasury bills. Debtor US has already started to mend its economic policies so that they do NOT offend its major creditor i.e. China. Australia’s economy is mostly dependent on Chinese imports of Australian raw materials. China has started to buy raw materials world-wide.

China’s forex reserves jumped by 318 billion dollars from April, 2009 to September, 2009 even in this down economy. China will be doubling its forex reserves to 4 trillion dollars within four years at that rate. With the accumulation of such massive forex reserves, China will become the lender of last resort to most of the countries and many a companies, like a village businessman. Little could Mao or even Deng have envisioned that their followers will beat capitalists at their own game.

Posted by: simplesimon33 | November 23, 2009 6:02 PM | Report abuse

Japanese bow all the time with the inferior party bowing deeper than the superior party.

I didn't see Akahito bow.

Posted by: muawiyah | November 23, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

Presidents Bow
While it may have been an awkward moment, it wasn't without precedent. And it appeared to be well within protocol guidelines that the State Department issues for foreign service officers working in other countries.

U.S. presidents from both political parties have often been criticized for their attempts at culturally sensitive greetings to high-ranking foreigners.

Former President George W. Bush, a Republican, was mocked for holding Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's hand and kising Prince Abullah, a traditional sign of friendship in the Middle East, as they strolled together in 2005.

In 1994, former Democratic President Bill Clinton was criticized for almost bowing to Akihito. The resulting image, the New York Times wrote, was of "an obsequent president and the emperor of Japan."

Former President Richard Nixon, a Republican, can be seen in a Life magazine photo from 1971 bowing to Akihito's father, Emperor Hirohito, who ruled when Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Obama's encounter with Akihito was a stumble because it mixed a bow with a handshake -- something not normally done. And it wasn't the first time the president, a Democrat in office less than a year, has been criticized for his greeting of a foreign leader. Critics accused him of genuflecting to Saudi King Abdullah at a summit meeting of the leaders of the top 20 rich and developing nations earlier this year.

Posted by: tinkabell1 | November 23, 2009 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Obama's bow to the Japanese Emperor was, in the Japanese context, polite and appropriate.

Those who see it as demeaning the US lack a sense of proportion. I see them as consumed by a trivial sense of superiority. Their way proposed the crass rudeness that one would expect from an oaf.

Posted by: robertjames1 | November 23, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

robertjames1, 'twould seem that the Wartime Regime still has its advocates.

Just where do you guys hide anyway.

Posted by: muawiyah | November 23, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

I am an American and just moved back to the US [Illinois] after living and working in Beijing for more than four years.I was fortunate enough to be able to teach at several of China's top universities [Tsinghua and Beihang]. I also taught at several central government agencies.
The "one child" policy doesn't apply to most people living in the countryside.
The government cannot control the web. My students could and do easily go around the government blocks and get access to anything they want.
While the "Communist Party" still rules China it is not the same party as twenty years ago. It is deeply involved in many capitalistic schemes. Only a small proportion of the population belongs to the CP. Most Chinese students don't look back favorably at Mao. They blame him for the excesses of the Cultural Revolution which greatly affected their grandparents.
All in all the God in China is money and how to make it.

Posted by: jimeglrd8 | November 23, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

Don't you just love it when Fred Hiatt, who was a big cheerleader for the Iraq war, and who just loves him some right wing neocon cranks like Charles Krauthammer and John Bolton, decides to spout off about foreign policy?

Hey Hiatt, why don't you go down to the nearest VA hospital and apologize to the troops who were wounded in Iraq you low rent GOP hack?

and by the way, what exactly are your foreign policy credentials, beside having been on the wrong side of the Iraq war debate, you pompous gasbag?

Posted by: losthorizon10 | November 23, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

The neo-con posse led by Fred Hiatt continues to ride the President hard until he decides to declare a war against Israel's enemy Iran. The Dalai Lama, the Emperor of Japan, health-care reform, the schemeing neo-con rat Dick Cheney are all just ploys for Israel-first neo-cons to manipulate the President into another boneheaded neo-con fiasco, this time a war against Iran so that Israelis will not have to test their bluster to drop bombs on another Middle-East country.

We should expect more neo-cons like Charles Krauthammer, Richard Cohen, the twit Bill Kristol, Richard Kagan, John Bolton and the entire Washington Post editorial board of chicken-hawks to spew more hatred against the President of the United States as long as he does not behave like the spineless weasel Bush who was easily spooked by the orchestrated barking of the neo-con pack of hounds.

Posted by: DCSage | November 23, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

The title was "Obama's Asian misstep" but the only criticism I see is that he is following the same path of every President since Carter.

Posted by: AxelDC | November 24, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

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