Its not just what he said at the G20 and in Europe; its about 3 seconds of what he did that has really stirred the hornets nest for the US conservatives.
It was overlooked at the time, unlike the words he said, but apparently some of his critics have been were searching YouTube for something more to pick on. And they found it!
He bowed to the Saudi King.
You can see the bow here with comment on the Time Middle East Blog. Why Obama's Saudi Bow was Not a Kow-Tow. Of course the White House is denying it,but its clearly a bow. And while it may breach US protocol, its got to have been the best thing he has done yet.
The Washington Times was disgusted at what it calls his "servile gesture": Barack takes a bow
In a shocking display of fealty to a foreign potentate, President Obama bowed to Saudi King Abdullah at the Group of 20 summit in London last week.
Mr. Obama later said in Strasbourg, France, "We have to change our behavior in showing the Muslim world greater respect." Symbolism is important in world affairs. By bending over to show greater respect to Islam, the U.S. president belittled the power and independence of the United States.
The comment in France was not directly related to the bow, but I would suggest gives clear indication he knew what he was up to. As they said, symbolism is important in world affairs. The bow was symbolic, but of what? Fealty as the article suggests? That is the popular understanding of any form of obeisance. Mere respect? Not necessary according to the article:
Maybe that is what the problem is about. The attitude that we are going to do it our way. And as a Brit I recognise the same in my own nations manner around the world. We expect greetings, everything in fact, to be done our way. But greetings protocol is important. A greeting is the gateway into a relationship. You can indicate in those few seconds how you are going to treat that relationship. Trust can be built or lost in simple gesture. I would suggest that President Obama was very simply saying, I am going to treat you with honour, just as I exprect you will treat me with honour. And I bet they heard what he said all the more attentively for that gesture.
Of course what he said is a problem as well:
Whatever came of the respect that is afforded to integrity, to humility?