In a scene that will likely be replayed on Sunday's political talk shows, President Obama bowed deeply to the Emperor and Empress of Japan on Saturday. The president's kowtow to the royal couple came on the second day of his Asian tour and before a private lunch with the pair in Tokyo.
An unnamed, senior Obama administration official told Politico Saturday that the president was observing protocol, saying, "I think that those who try to politicize those things are just way, way, way off base." During his speech in Tokyo, President Obama reaffirmed the United State's alliance with Japan and called himself America's first Pacific President.
In April, the president was criticized by the National Republican Senatorial Committee for bowing to Saudi King Abdullah at a G-20 meeting. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs declined to call Obama's gesture to Abdullah a bow, instead saying Obama "bent over" to shake hands with the king.
Anticipating drama, the Los Angeles Times wrote a blog entry Saturday about the bow. The LA Times detailed former Vice President Dick Cheney's (non-bow) handshake with the Japanese emperor and pointed to the "comedic" drama surrounding former Presdient Clinton's bow to Akihito.