Another Royal Faux Pax: Obama Gives Full Bow to Saudi King

Posted on April 2, 2009

This is getting ridiculous. The latest diplomatic faux pas during the Obamas trip to England for the G20 is already sending shockwaves through diplomatic circles. No, the president didn't offend a world leader. Quite the opposite, in fact.

When President Obama met King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia, he executed a full bow from the waist. The president of the United States must never, never bow to a foreign monarch because that indicates that he -- and by extension his entire country and we -- are the subjects of that monarch. The president of the United States is the social equal of any world leader. All that is required is a polite handshake. Here is the video (the commentary is not in English, and the Bow that Shocked Everyone occurs at around the 50 second mark).

Saudi Arabia is a country where women are not allowed to drive, own property or talk openly about breast cancer screenings. This is not a country to which we should making obeisance. President Obama gave a polite dip of his head when he met Queen Elizabeth, the monarch of America's greatest ally. To follow that up with a full, deep bow to the Saudi monarch is shocking, to say the least.

An aide to the president recently revealed that the President's staff did not even know of the existence of the Protocol Office at the State Department and has so far failed to staff the White House Protocol Office, which is why the gaffes keep coming. Apparently, his staff doesn't even know enough to buy a copy of Letitia Baldrige's etiquette book. Trust us, this one's going to have all kinds of political ramifications. And it all could have been avoided if the protocol office was staffed with experienced hands who briefed the President before his trip.
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