Both Allahpundit and I referenced this blast from the past at the time Barack Obama bowed to Abdullah earlier this year. It’s worth posting again, not just because Obama pulled another boneheaded protocol violation and bowed to an emperor, but in this case bowed to the same emperor with whom Bill Clinton almost committed the same protocol violation. Douglas Jehr, in a 1994 New York Times report, made it clear that had Clinton actually executed a full bow, it would have destroyed a precedent dating to the founding of the Republic:
It wasn’t a bow, exactly. But Mr. Clinton came close. He inclined his head and shoulders forward, he pressed his hands together. It lasted no longer than a snapshot, but the image on the South Lawn was indelible: an obsequent President, and the Emperor of Japan.
Canadians still bow to England’s Queen; so do Australians. Americans shake hands. If not to stand eye-to-eye with royalty, what else were 1776 and all that about? …
Guests invited to a white-tie state dinner at the White House (a Clinton Administration first) were instructed to address the Emperor as “Your Majesty,” not “Your Highness” or, worse, “King.” And in what one Administration aide called “some emperor thing,” an Army general was cautioned that he should not address the Emperor Akihito at all as he escorted him to the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
But the “thou need not bow” commandment from the State Department’s protocol office maintained a constancy of more than 200 years. Administration officials scurried to insist that the eager-to-please President had not really done the unthinkable.
The New York Times didn’t have much to say after Obama’s bow to Abdullah despite having scolded Clinton in this manner for almost bowing to Akihito. Now that Obama has done “the unthinkable” twice, and this time to Akihito, will the New York Times have anything to say about it? Will any of the national news media inquire as to whether the Obama administration has changed American protocol from its 233-year norm of not bowing to royalty, and exactly what “hope and change” that represents?