The White House briefing room grew a bit chilly on Thursday after CNN reporter Dan Lothian asked press secretary Robert Gibbs to explain the current cause célèbre of the conservative movement: whether President Obama bowed down to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
LOTHIAN: When the President met with King Abdullah, there was something that took place which I believe the White House explained was 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--
LOTHIAN: -- one hand --
GIBBS: Well I... [laughter]
LOTHIAN: Did he bow or didn't he?
GIBBS: No. But I think this meeting was like a week ago, right?
LOTHIAN: That's right but this is something a lot of people are talking about today.
GIBBS: I can only imagine it is of great cause and concern for many people struggling with the economy.
At that point, the conversation ended, the other reporters offered their subtle "ohhhs," and the Lothian was left shaking his head.
UPDATE: Here is CNN's report on the issue, which notes President Bush's hand-holding and ceremonial kiss with King Abdullah.
LATE UPDATE: Lest one think that no one cares about the president's alleged or likely bow to King Abdullah, here comes the National Republican Senatorial Committee using the issue as a fundraising ploy. From the NRSC's Executive Director Rob Jesmer comes this:
Symbolism and leadership are critical in matters of world affairs. So it's stunning that just hours after he apologized to a European audience last week, and said America has been "arrogant" and "dismissive," President Obama paid fealty to Saudi King Abdullah by bowing to him at the G-20 Summit in London.
In both instances, it's becoming increasingly apparent that our new President would rather be accepted and befriended by his new friends abroad, than preserve America's reputation and leadership as the world's pre-eminent superpower.
In a stunning twist of irony, Saudi Arabia stands to grow even richer under this Administration, as our oil dollars continue to flow to the Middle East because of President Obama's staunch opposition to increasing domestic oil production here at home.
Actually, the stunning twist of irony is that Jesmer and other conservatives didn't make a peep about the proximity of the Bush family and King Abdullah for the past eight years but now, seemingly, are filled with outrage over a symbolic gesture of respect. Also, the link included in the NRSC fundraising appeal ... it's not an NRSC website.