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Obama and Abdullah, To Bow Or Not To Bow

Controversy over the alleged "bow" continues.

Conservative commentators who have been aghast over what appeared to be President Obama bowing to Saudi King Abdullah during the G-20 economic summit in London last week are still trying to get to the bottom of it.

The Weekly Standard is ripping the White House for "denying that Obama did what he plainly did."

The Weekly Standard points to yesterday's briefing by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs:

QUESTION: And then one unrelated question. When the president met with King Abdullah, there was something that took place which I believe the White House explained as just the president being taller than the king. We took a look at the video, and it does appear that the president actually bowed to King Abdullah. Did he bow or didn't he?

GIBBS: No, I think he bent over with both to shake -- with both hands to shake his hand, so I don't...

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) one hand, that he -- he was just...

GIBBS: Well I -- I -- I -- this is...

QUESTION: Did he bow or didn't he?

GIBBS: No, but I think this meeting was like a week ago, right?

QUESTION: That's right, but this is something that a lot of people are still talking about today.

GIBBS: I can only imagine it is of great cause and concern for many people struggling with the economy.

An anonymous White House aide told Politico earlier this week that Obama definitely did not bow to the Saudi ruler. "It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah."

The conservative blog Hot Air called the perceived bow the "worst amateur moment thus far in the Obama presidency" and described it as a "bow to a monarch so deep that he literally had to take a step back to balance himself."

An editorial in the conservative Washington Times said, "The bow was an extraordinary protocol violation. Such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer. There is no precedent for U.S. presidents bowing to Saudi or any other royals."

View the video above and tell us what you think: Did President Obama bow to King Abdullah? And, if he did, is there anything wrong with that?

By Mary Ann Akers  |  April 10, 2009; 10:10 AM ET
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Next: Spencer Bachus's Past With Socialists


Bowed. Bad.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | April 10, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Compare the Video of his meeting with Queen Elizabeth, where he politely nooded his head and leaned forward, and his meeting with King Abdullah, and then make your own call. Perhaps Barry had a flash back to his formative years in Jakarta, and he will probably never make this mistake again. Frankly, it is the inability to be honest about minor mistake that is more troubling.

Posted by: pondering | April 10, 2009 10:59 AM | Report abuse

It was a mistake to bow. Abdullah extended his hand at shoulder height. There was no need for Obama to bow.
To learn "What Obama told Abdullah" see

Posted by: dumbreddown | April 10, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

From the angle of the video he looked liked he bowed. I doubt if it was anything more than a friendly jesture. The bottom line is who cares? It's amazing how childish Republicans are. They are so concerned about minor stuff that has no baring on the important issues of the day. When George Bush holds the Kings' hand and strolls on his farm I didn't hear such a uproar. Where is the uproar over torture, over the lies of Bush/Chengey, where Ben Laden, 2 wars?????

Posted by: Roderic45 | April 10, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

He Bowed! I don't care. But I do really care that the Obama Administration denies it. If Robert Gibbs said,"Yes, he bowed, he made a mistake, now, let's move on". I could accept that. But please Mr. Gibbs, don't insult my intelligence.

Posted by: tiotom77 | April 10, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

If Obama's "bow" is making the wingnuts go in a tizzy, then explain why they said nothing when George W was prancing around the flower garden holding hands with this same king and kissed his hands. The GOP honestly sucks!

Posted by: hayden1 | April 10, 2009 2:13 PM | Report abuse

By the way Ms Mary Ann of trivialities, you could have mentioned that Bush held hands with the king. Thanks for your half-a$$ed reporting as usual.

Posted by: hayden1 | April 10, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Hayden: the story is about Barack Obama, not George W. Bush so I don't see how thats relevent. Holding hands isn't nearly as submissive as bowing so maybe you should get off your high horse to begin with. I agree with tiotom77 just admit you are were in the wrong and be done with it. Instead the liberal response (as it has with all of President Obama's miscues) is "but he's not as bad as Bush". What kind of childish response is that.

Posted by: Steveo11 | April 10, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

You guys have to see this Youtube video making the rounds on Youtube. Its called the Obama Bow Remix Video. It is very funny.

Posted by: pastor123 | April 10, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Holding hands isn't nearly as submissive as bowing so maybe you should get off your high horse to begin with.
Posted by: Steveo11 | April 10, 2009 2:27 PM
You hypocrites! You know if Obama held hands with the king you jerks would be calling him homosexual, a gay, etc etc, etc. There is no shortage to your asinine complaints.
Try this lamo, before you speak. Suck on your sawed-off shot gun and pull the trigger.

Posted by: hayden1 | April 10, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious that President Obama bowed and the President of the United States should not bow down to any other leader or equal. Why would he do this? Why wasn't this on the front page or discussed in the press? These are interesting questions to ponder.

Posted by: sheberger | April 10, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

BFD he was probably told that is what you do to show respect, nothing wrong with that. Besides, I've seen a video of Bush bowing to the king while he is adorned with a medal. So what.

What I do care about is:
The economy
The two wars
Stem cell research
Health care

Posted by: JRM2 | April 10, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh God impeach him now!

Posted by: JRM2 | April 10, 2009 7:19 PM | Report abuse

Why is bow in sneer quotes? is that not what he did?

Posted by: obblehit | April 10, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

Why is bow in sneer quotes? is that not what he did?

Posted by: obblehit | April 10, 2009 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Gibbs, a product of hayseed Auburn, Ala., and N.C. State, North Carolina's safety school, is the one out of his element. He even misses the setup whiffle balls tossed to him by the likes of Olbermann and Maddow. The bow was a bow, and a blooper, but Gibbs's repeated amateurish handling of such things is the unspoken story here. Sooner or later, this staffing error is going to cost Obama.

Posted by: PubliusIX | April 11, 2009 2:59 AM | Report abuse

Who really cares about this. Does anyone really think President Obama is submissive to anyone? Really!! We have much more to worry about and discuss than did he bow or not bow. How about the economy? How about border security? How about our faiing education system (50% dropout rate)? How about anything but this? We'll never get anything accomplished if this is all we can talk about. I blame the news media for constantly feeding us this dribble. They don't want us to focus on anything substantive. That would be too much. Maybe we would start taking to the streets like the frustrated and disgusted people in other countries (not just Europe). Now wouldn't that be something.

Posted by: pstimus | April 11, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Just as long as he doesn't bow to Boehner or McConnell. Or Pelosi or Reid for that matter. :-)


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | April 11, 2009 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Dancing with the sabre, kissing and hand-holding with the Saudi king seem more acceptable to the conservative idiots. All those 3 Bush did do. Obama's bowing is too mild compared to the sword/saber dance.

Posted by: mstratas | April 11, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't look like a bow...more like he bent over to pick something up...A bow is not as low. I think someone, if they are really interested, should ask the President, instead of assuming things. Even if he says it was a bow...why? To be polite? I think we need more information...and need to desperately install more Wind turbines and solar panels to our power grid so we can IGNORE that part of the world...after we bring our troops home!

Posted by: djanes | April 11, 2009 10:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if it's a bow or not, because I couldn't care less either way.

But the best part of this story is that it reveals to the entire world that the Republican Party is running on "EMPTY" big time.

It would be sad if it wasn't so delicious.

Posted by: freespeak | April 12, 2009 7:40 AM | Report abuse

The Obamas are authentic power-players who don't give a fig if one of them hugs Britain's Royal Monarch or the other bows in respect to another country's King.

It is clear to anyone with a brain that Obama is the pre-eminent leader of the globe and how he chooses to show his respect to world leaders is his business.

Posted by: like-mind | April 12, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

"Who really cares about this. Does anyone really think President Obama is submissive to anyone? Really!! We have much more to worry about and discuss than did he bow or not bow."

Foreign leaders REALLY care about this. They are extremely interested in clues to how Obama will act in a crisis. The impression that Obama's instinct is to be submissive increases the likelihood of international crises. That's the problem. Body language matters.

Posted by: i_go_pogo | April 12, 2009 10:33 AM | Report abuse

He bowed. That is an inescapable fact. it is a violation of protocol. Geo Washington was offered to be made a king and declined. Since then this country has never subjugated to a monarchy znd for good reasons. Obama's bow is a symbol of weakness and supplication that will not go unnoticed by our friends and foes alike. i_go_pogo has it right. Time to stop this discussion and avoid any further repetitions.

Posted by: truthseeker8 | April 13, 2009 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps because because Abdallah is Custodian of the two holy Islamic mosques. Furthermore, it might come in handy when the US needs to call on Saudi Arabia's wealth influence in the years ahead.

In the UK and Commonwealth countries people bow to the monarch all the time.

In Thailand they crawl befre the monarch.

Heaven knows what they do in Africa.

Posted by: justindeco | April 13, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Big freakin deal! Obama knows he has to play the field with the so called wise men of the desert. We surly don't need any unnecessary problems these people could make. Whats the big deal, is it Fox propaganda or is it smart politics?

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | April 13, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

If anyone is making our country appear to be weak, it's these numerous negative blogs of our President! Other countries know that we are a divided nation, and that we would do anything short of sacrificing our first born to win a stupid race. If he bowed, so what...WE REALLY NEED TO START SUPPORTING OUR PRESIDENT before there no longer is a choice!

Posted by: nancyholly | April 13, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Big freakin deal! Obama knows he has to play the field with the so called wise men of the desert. We surly don't need any unnecessary problems these people could make. Whats the big deal, is it Fox propaganda or is it smart politics?

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | April 13, 2009 10:30 AM | Report abuse

..."With a single bow/President/Barack/Obama wiped away "EIGHT/YEARS/REPUBLCIAN/TORTURE!

..."With a Single Bow, the Arab world seen what Republicans fail to see, "Customs/matter in other countries, especially where a monarch exists, "THAT/folks is what your suppose to do, if your educated on the customs of that country, unlike Republicans who/can't see that, and make a big deal out of no deal.

Now you see why U.S. in the Mess it's in, Republicans/Torture/fact/record/Republicans!


..."Keep up the Good Work President Barack whom I voted for, "We have alot of work to do over the "GREAT/DAMAGE/DONE/BY/REPUBLICANS/America's/Image, and U.S. thanks to Republicans now have along way to go....

Posted by: ztcb41 | April 13, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The real question is: what sounds better? Bowback Obama or Barack Bowbama?

Posted by: joemesmo | April 13, 2009 11:49 AM | Report abuse

this is a clear Indication of Mr.Obama.that give us his greatness as a human being to respect others without any reservation. that is it.

Posted by: silpisivaAjantha | April 13, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama bowed. That is proper international protocol. "Precedent" is meaningless here: This is a new era of American international diplomacy that respects and studies other cultures in order to pragmatically resolve differences.

Mr. Obama has more experience as a man of the world than most of his predecessors combined. He is extremely curious about the entire world and all of its cultures. This is only one of our new president's many skills. Get ready for more precedents.

Posted by: jabbanatlog | April 13, 2009 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Right now, if Mr. Obama is found eating his own children, his acolytes will found the way to justify the fact, even more so, we will have to believe it´s actually the latest culinary trend. Let's hope America regains its critical sense after the honeymoon is over. And by the way, the dog name is now unoficially ´Bow´...

Posted by: joemesmo | April 13, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

It looks like all democrats and their supporters (Mary Ann) are congenital liars. Hillary is in for her second run.

Posted by: vitaglubet | April 13, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

A little history lesson here: No American, president or pauper, is to be required to bow before a monarch or symbol of any nation, even our own.


That said, each individual American has the right to show respect on a personal level as he or she sees fit, but he or she will not be copelled to do so to any monarch or symbol, even our own.

Now, the Republicans are still smarting from the Nixon years and Watergate. And they are still looking to find some way to balance the books against the Democrats for Nixon going down.

There will not be any rest on their part until they can stick it to the rest of the world who are not Republicans.

The best thing we can do, is to brush aside this perceived gaff and move on. When we answer their gripes, it just adds fuel to their self-consuming inferno.

I agree with some writers here: Have Obama tell us what he thought he did, get it out in the open and take the wind out of the Republican sails, then move on.

We do have many other much more important things to take care rather than pander to some muck-rakers who can't seem to find their arses with both hands, much less a really juicy scandal.

Posted by: dglenjackson | April 13, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

The President bowed to the King, which, as an American and the President he is not required to do. But of course, 6 months ago he was a backbench senator from Illinois and can certainly not be expected to forego the excitement of meeting famous world leaders, celebrities and royals and the like and maybe goofing up the protocol a bit.
At least he didn't curtsy.

Posted by: jameswallhauser | April 13, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Who cares. Sometimes you have to let the moment dictate the correct thing to do. I suspect that Obama is more savvy than many people get.

Posted by: skybride56 | April 13, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

So, Obama bowed to King Abdullah. So what?

The problem with some people is that they cannot see beyond their myopic attitudes and their narrow mindedness.Perhaps it is time for them to get off their high horses and face the new reality.

Let's face facts..The U.S. is at present the biggest debtor to nations that most Americans scorn at and which includes Saudi Arabia and China. A little bowing is in order and shows humility and good manners. And talking of manners..well, that is a subject some Americans could have a little lesson on.
Obama knows when to bow and when not is a sign of a man that has reflected on how humans should behave...not just threaten to blow everything to smithereens because you can.

Posted by: callaspadeaspade | April 14, 2009 7:42 AM | Report abuse

There is no doubt President Obama did bow and then used both his hands with the King.

There is nothing really wrong with the President bowing to an old man out of respect and to an old allie too. One need not read too much into it.In the U.S these days everything appears so mixed up with what Bush did or did not that everything is worked into a frenzy?Afterall like China Saudi Arabia also holds a lot of American Treasury notes and maybe the king should be kept in a good mood?

Posted by: noronhavivian | April 14, 2009 10:54 AM | Report abuse

That was a bow, even the King had to look down when Obama grabbed his hand. When will the American liberal public wake up
to the fact that the man they elected as President is not representing Americas interest but the interest of his buddy Reverend Wright when he recently proclaimed overseas that (American's) his own people--for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world. This man should be impeached.

Posted by: jrbreslin1 | April 14, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

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