Drudge has it red-fonted, which means it’s officially outrageous outrage time. I don’t know if I’ve gotten used to him doing this or if it’s a small relief to see him not go quite as perpendicular as he did for the Japanese emperor, but my heart-ache isn’t as pronounced as it was in the past. I’m curious, actually: What does one have to do to merit a show of deference from The One? Is it a debt thing? That would certainly explain the bows to China and Japan, but what about the one to the Saudi king? Maybe it’s an age thing, as the Saudi and Japanese rulers are both elderly — but then what about Hu, who’s only 67? Is it more subjective, where sometimes the mood strikes for no rhyme or reason? What’s the policy here, champ?

If you want to work your outrage muscle, I recommend this Foreign Policy piece in lieu of the Hu photo. Quote:

“In connection with the OSCE, the presidents had a very lengthy discussion of issues of democracy and human rights,” NSC senior director Mike McFaul said on a conference call with reporters Sunday. “Both presidents agreed that you don’t ever reach democracy; you always have to work at it. And in particular, President Obama reminded his Kazakh counterpart that we, too, are working to improve our democracy.”

The Wall Street Journal’s Jonathan Weisman asked McFaul to clarify.

“You seemed to be suggesting there was some equivalence between their issues of democracy and the United States’ issues, when you said that President Obama assured him that we, too, are working on our democracy,” Weisman said. “Is there equivalence between the problems that President Nazarbayev is confronting and the state of democracy in the United States?”

“Absolutely not … There was no equivalence meant whatsoever,” McFaul said. “[Obama’s] taken, I think, rather historic steps to improve our own democracy since coming to office here in the United States.”

Follow the link for details on what “democracy” means in Kazakhstan. Why The One feels compelled to remind foreign leaders of our imperfections, I don’t know; presumably he thinks Nazarbayev will be more receptive to human rights criticism from America if we don’t come off as being high-handed. Or maybe there was something he wanted from Nazarbayev and thought a little humility might help him get it. If so, mission accomplished.

Exit question: What “historic steps” has he taken to improve democracy since he’s been in office?

Update: More dividends from the humble approach: China suddenly sounds open to joining Iran sanctions. Maybe if we can get Obama to bow to Ahmadinejad, they’ll take their reactors offline.