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Kalhoun
04-07-2009, 01:53 PM
Please advise...do US presidents follow etiquette such as bowing to kings in other nations? If so, can anyone find a cite? I need this. And if there is something stating that all or most presidents follow these rules, can I have a cite for that too? Many thanks.

Mk VII
04-07-2009, 02:07 PM
I very much doubt that they do bow .... as one Head of State to another, it isn't necessary.

Kalhoun
04-07-2009, 02:09 PM
The reason I ask is that my brother in law is absolutely freaked that Obama bowed to the Saudi king the other day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WlqW6UCeaY

He believes this has reduced us to a 3rd world country. :rolleyes:

Is this The Big Suck Up or do we do these things as a show of friendship?

Kimmy_Gibbler
04-07-2009, 02:12 PM
Your brother-in-law is absolutely right, of course. Ever since Obama bowed, we have been a vassal state of the KSA. We used to be a prefecture of Japan; you might remember that George Bush (the Elder) vomited in their Prime Minister's lap. But then the French president (or someone) said "We are all Americans today" after 9-11, so for a while, the whole world was in suzerainty to us.

Kalhoun
04-07-2009, 02:14 PM
So...anyone? If I could get a Regan or a Bush or someone doing the same thing, it would be most helpful.

Mops
04-07-2009, 02:29 PM
A counterquestion: does a bow really carry that strong a connotation of obsequiousness (as opposed to politeness between social equals) in the US? If that's the case Obama may be in trouble as some of his counterparts are so much shorter that he's bound to take a small bow now and then.

Kimmy_Gibbler
04-07-2009, 02:29 PM
So...anyone? If I could get a Regan or a Bush or someone doing the same thing, it would be most helpful.

W danced! (http://politicsandcriticalthinking.blogspot.com/2009/04/obama-bowed-bush-danced.html) Which, true, isn't a bow, but among some of his most diehard supporters, it will send you to hell! And didn't he grope Merkel at some summit last year?

To be serious, protocol is a bit sui generis. Etiquette is the art of observing conventions and knowing how to bend the rules graciously--even more so when it is an incident to statecraft. Detractors will always find some minor quibble, real or imagined: this gift was wrong, he doesn't wear a coat and tie in the Oval Office all the time, etc. etc. I won't deny, however, that those detractors couldn't benefit from a study of Emily Post or Letitia Baldridge nevertheless.

Kalhoun
04-07-2009, 02:33 PM
A counterquestion: does a bow really carry that strong a connotation of obsequiousness (as opposed to politeness between social equals) in the US? If that's the case Obama may be in trouble as some of his counterparts are so much shorter that he's bound to take a small bow now and then.

Well, that was my next question. I don't feel that this is a subservient thing. He did a little head bow (as per tradition) to the Queen of England and he did a full waist bow to the Saudi King. Big fuckin' deal. The republicans are positively losing it! I really want to know how much significance this holds with the thinking minds of the 21st century.

Rigamarole
04-07-2009, 02:56 PM
W danced! (http://politicsandcriticalthinking.blogspot.com/2009/04/obama-bowed-bush-danced.html) Which, true, isn't a bow, but among some of his most diehard supporters, it will send you to hell!

Wow, that is a terrible excuse for "dancing". Obama's (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsWpvkLCvu4) no Michael Jackson, but at least he moves his hips! (As he rightfully points out, when it comes to presidential candidate dancing skills, it's a low bar)

Chronos
04-07-2009, 02:57 PM
If Obama had kneeled to anyone, that would be something to get bothered about, since kneeling is a sign of subservience. A bow, however, is merely a sign of respect. And while some people may get upset about the US (or a representative thereof) respecting any other country, they shouldn't.

Dewey Finn
04-07-2009, 02:57 PM
So...anyone? If I could get a Regan or a Bush or someone doing the same thing, it would be most helpful.
Will this (http://www.slate.com/id/2117535/) work? (Link to a photo on Slate.com of George W. Bush holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.)

Fantome
04-07-2009, 03:19 PM
Will this (http://www.slate.com/id/2117535/) work? (Link to a photo on Slate.com of George W. Bush holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.)
Nah. While it's an example of Bush observing a foreign custom, both he and Abdullah are behaving equally. Obama bowed to the King but kings do not bow back.

Sampiro
04-07-2009, 03:20 PM
I think it would be obsequious if Obama bowed to the Saudi King in this country. Even a head of state observes the etiquette of a nation when a guest in their nation within reason (i.e. if he gave Mahlia to be wife to the king's grandson that would be a bit overboard). Certainly a visiting Saudi dignitary here would be expected to show respect to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton even though in their nation no woman could hold that position (or drive).

Even over here, Bush and most other presidents refer to visiting monarchs as "Your Majesty" or "Your Highness" when as Americans there's nothing about them intrinsically more majestic or high than anyone else. It's diplomacy, nothing more.

I wonder if your brother-in-law would be as irritated if a U.S. president (especially one who isn't Catholic [i.e. not JFK]) knelt before the Pope at the Vatican. Or if he bowed to a Japanese emperor.

Kalhoun
04-07-2009, 03:20 PM
Will this (http://www.slate.com/id/2117535/) work? (Link to a photo on Slate.com of George W. Bush holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.)

Thanks, Dewey, but I don't think the hand-wavers will think that's subserviant. I did find ths quote from Gloria Starr, who the Pentagon hires to teach this stuff to those who need it:

"(The bow) in no way diminishes the ranking of the President or indicates the greater strength of [the king]," Gloria Starr told the paper. "I bowed, wore the attire, ate the figs as a sign of respect when I was in Saudi. I applaud the President for showing this courtesy."

I'm hoping this is enough to get the pitchforks back in the barn and douse the torches.

KneadToKnow
04-07-2009, 03:21 PM
Obama bowed to the King but kings do not bow back.

That's a faulty analogy: nobody bows to the US president.

Kalhoun
04-07-2009, 03:27 PM
I think it would be obsequious if Obama bowed to the Saudi King in this country. Even a head of state observes the etiquette of a nation when a guest in their nation within reason (i.e. if he gave Mahlia to be wife to the king's grandson that would be a bit overboard). Certainly a visiting Saudi dignitary here would be expected to show respect to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton even though in their nation no woman could hold that position (or drive).

I wonder if your brother-in-law would be as irritated if a U.S. president (especially one who isn't Catholic [i.e. not JFK]) knelt before the Pope at the Vatican.

Hard to say. He's one of those guys who doesn't necessarily believe in god but believes that we are a christian nation. He's the guy who writes all those large font multi-colored rants that find their way to your inbox. It's his country right or wrong (except when a black democrat is in the white house, of course) and a flag-waver and a rich guy who lost half his fortune. The level of hysteria has reached fever pitch. He considers this a sign of weakness, and evidently most everyone on the right does, too (based on a quick google). I guess we're doomed.

BrotherCadfael
04-07-2009, 03:32 PM
There was a case some years back where an American diplomat curtsied to the Queen, and was fairly heavily criticized for it. I can't recall if that was in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, or Clinton administrations.

Fantome
04-07-2009, 03:34 PM
That's a faulty analogy: nobody bows to the US president.
I wasn't giving an analogy. Kalhoun asked if he could get an example of a Regan or a Bush or someone doing the same thing. Dewey Finn asked if a pic of GWB holding hands with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah would do. I answered that it wouldn't and my reasoning is that the latter is an example of both behaving equally and the former is an example which shows what could be construed by some as subservience. While adhering to some other nation's customs may be seen by some as subservience, I doubt it's the type of example the OP was looking for.

Tom Tildrum
04-07-2009, 05:08 PM
There was a case some years back where an American diplomat curtsied to the Queen, and was fairly heavily criticized for it. I can't recall if that was in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, or Clinton administrations.

Reagan's protocol officer, IIRC.

Sampiro
04-07-2009, 06:06 PM
Hard to say. He's one of those guys who doesn't necessarily believe in god but believes that we are a christian nation. He's the guy who writes all those large font multi-colored rants that find their way to your inbox. [etc.].

OMG... your brother-in-law is my sister!;)

I'm guessing that like my sister you can also send him a Snopes for every one of the forwarded rants and it'll never occur to him to check Snopes next time he gets one of those emails. Not that he believed Snopes the first time. Burns by butt.

CookingWithGas
04-07-2009, 06:37 PM
The reason I ask is that my brother in law is absolutely freaked that Obama bowed to the Saudi king the other day.First, my understanding is that only the subjects of a monarch are required to bow. Miss Manners says so in Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn-of-the-Millennium. Second, I didn't know bowing was a custom in Saudi Arabia to begin with. I have never been to Japan but I understand they bow there and with a definite protocol to the depth of the bow, but I've never heard of it in the Middle East. Thirdly, are you sure he didn't just trip? ;) Fourthly, I think he made a mistake. And I have left-leaning politics and I voted for him.

Tim@T-Bonham.net
04-07-2009, 06:50 PM
Nah. While it's an example of Bush observing a foreign custom, both he and Abdullah are behaving equally. Obama bowed to the King but kings do not bow back.Not true!
Bush's hand is on the inside, being held by the Saudi Prince. That makes W. the bottom in this relationship, the bitch of the Saudi Prince.

Thinking about that, ewwwwwwww!

dracoi
04-07-2009, 08:04 PM
Fourthly, I think he made a mistake. And I have left-leaning politics and I voted for him.

That's funny; I'm right-leaning and did not vote for him, and I think it was a gracious, symbolic and/or diplomatic gesture. The US could stand to be more polite to other nations, at least superficially. We can always blow them up if they don't cooperate later. :)

Anyway, I think the general rule for all etiquette is the that you should do what puts other people most at ease. All the long lists and specific rules are pretty much subservient to that ideal.

Sampiro
04-07-2009, 08:40 PM
Many years ago I was a banquet waiter for a hotel that was hosting a huge Rose Convention. Rose growers/florists were coming from everywhere to this thing. The guest of honor was a British countess and the banquet manager instructed us in the courtly bow, which frankly I'm not even sure is necessary for a countess (this was before the Internet or I'd have looked it up.)but it didn't matter to me if the custom was falling on your face, crawling forward on your tummy, and licking her ankles- I wasn't going to do it and said so- politely but firmly. A lot of the people who'd been practicing their bows and curtseys hadn't really thought about the "I'm your inferior" notions of it til I pointed it out, whereupon they became indignant as well. The banquet manager (a total prick) tried to make an issue of it and addressed the GM who, surprisingly, was on our side: "This is America, we fought several wars to get away from that kinda stuff". (Ex military good ol' boy, which worked in our favor.) So to the indignation of the banquet manager it was resolved: treat her respectively but like any other guest.

When she arrived and took the stand to deliver a speech we all had to go in the back and fall apart laughing. She really was a British countess, but she was from Texas and had one of the thickest drawls you've ever heard! She was a countess by virtue of marriage to an Earl (I'm guessing- though I've no idea- it was one of those "richer than God American weds penniless guy with title" things). She was also a super nice person who talked to all of the banquet staff exactly the same as she did anybody fawning over the roses named in her honor.
================================================

I was also a bellman at a hotel when a member of the Saudi royal family stayed with us- either a younger brother or nephew of the king, but whoever he was---- BLOODY rich. He was buying a huge amount of property in the area (later resold before it was developed) and booked literally dozens of rooms for himself and his entourage who arrived by private jet in Atlanta and then convoyed by limo from there to Montgomery (3 hours). Since the hotel was hard up for cash (has since changed ownership several times) it had to go well and we were all given etiquette lessons before hand. We weren't instructed to bow or anything like, but we were not to make eye contact, not to any of the "robe wearing guys" in any way unless they addressed us first, and no woman was to enter his rooms to clean when he was present (luckily he was gone several hours each day). The main thing I remember about their stay was that several of them bought very expensive booze while here and left it in the room as a tip to the bellmen when they left since they couldn't take it back to Arabia; I got a bottle of Courvoisier and some got some very expensive wines and liquors. (They also left a big tip for the hotel staff that to this day we're pretty sure was a LOT more than the pittance we got [about $20 each and by all accounts it was a stack of hundreds- the GM and others pocketed most of it]).

chique
04-08-2009, 03:12 AM
FWIW, I'm watching the rebroadcast of this week's Frontline right now and about 5 minutes into Black Money (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/blackmoney/) is a shot of Bush the Elder practically hugging a Saudi prince (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandar_bin_Sultan) who has come to be known as "Bandar Bush" for his close ties to the family.

Kalhoun
04-08-2009, 06:20 AM
OMG... your brother-in-law is my sister!;)

I'm guessing that like my sister you can also send him a Snopes for every one of the forwarded rants and it'll never occur to him to check Snopes next time he gets one of those emails. Not that he believed Snopes the first time. Burns by butt.
I send him Snopes and anything else I can find that wasn't banged out on a computer in some guy's mother's basement, and yet he refuses.

I got a reply from his daughter. She is asking me where exactly the quote I provided says he followed etiquette. So "etiquette" and "courtesy" can't be used interchangeably? Isn't that what etiquette is?

APB
04-08-2009, 08:23 AM
There was a case some years back where an American diplomat curtsied to the Queen, and was fairly heavily criticized for it. I can't recall if that was in the Carter, Reagan, Bush, or Clinton administrations.

Reagan's protocol officer, IIRC.

Specifically Leonore Annenberg when she greeted Prince Charles on his visit to Washington in 1981. And, significantly, she defended herself on the grounds that she had done so routinely when her husband had been the US ambassador in London.

This is mentioned in the recent Times obituary for her.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article5913688.ece

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