The blog Hot Air -- which operates as a clearinghouse for rightwing fecal matter -- has unearthed a New York Times article from 1994, which supposedly "blasts" President Clinton for bowing before Akihito. The article, however, does not blast Clinton (or anyone else). Instead, it provides rather campy commentary regarding the uncertainty that United States presidents and their staff have faced when greeting royalty:
There was that curtsy, during the Reagan years, when Lenore Annenberg, herself the chief of protocol, forgot herself entirely and did a little dip to greet a visiting Prince Charles. That prompted a stern warning from Miss Manners against those who might mock the effort that "was once put into freeing Americans from the necessity of bending their knees." Soon afterward, when Nancy Reagan greeted Queen Elizabeth II behind closed doors, her press secretary acknowledged that Mrs. Reagan had bowed her head but insisted, "It was definitely not a curtsy."The blog American Power keeps the stench going with an essay "Bowing Before Monarchs and Tyrants." Video footage of Obama greeting Akihito accompanies the
The blog's description of Akihito as a "monarch" or "tyrant" demonstrates the paucity of facts in contemporary conservative commentary. A real monarch (as opposed to a constitutional monarch) exercises absolute power and dominion in a country. Emperor Akihito, however, is merely a figurehead.
The Constitution of Japan gives executive power to the Cabinet and legislative authority to the Diet. The Constitution also creates a national judicial system. Furthermore, it states that "[t]he people have the inalienable right to choose their public officials and to dismiss them."
By contrast, the Constitution of Japan describes the Emperor as a "symbol." The Constitution also states that the "Emperor shall perform only such acts in matters of state as are provided for in this Constitution and he shall not have powers related to government" (italics added).
Even though Akihito is simply a symbol of state, American Power argues that Obama's bow shows that "the United States now willingly prostrates itself before the rest of the world." This statement is simply diarrhea. It also misuses terminology.
Finally, the conservative outrage in this area is laughable, given the fact that the bow is akin to a handshake. Applying conservative fecal logic, President Obama should not shake hands with the Emperor either -- which begs the question: Why should United States presidents meet with royalty? If bowing concedes power to "monarchs and tyrants," then meeting with them during a diplomatic trip does so as well. Flush.