Obama's Apparent Bow to Saudi King Outrages Conservatives

Published April 10, 2009

| FoxNews.com

It was the bow seen around the world.

Last week, President Obama greeted King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia with what appeared to be a bow, outraging conservatives who say the leader of the free world has no business bending over to foreigners.

But the White House denies that the president bowed.

A video of the greeting shows Obama significantly stooping before the 84-year-old monarch.

The alleged bow left a bitter taste with many conservatives.

"By bending over to show greater respect to Islam, the U.S. president belittled the power and independence of the United States," the Washington Times said in an editorial.

"Such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king's subjects, not his peer."

But protocol experts told FOX News that no rule exists on presidents bowing.

"To my knowledge, there is no rule at all," said Lloyd Hand who was chief of protocol for President Lyndon Johnson. "Protocol is 95 percent common sense judgment and 5 percent specific rules and that has nothing to do with bowing."

Hand said he doesn't believe Obama's stoop qualifies as a bow.

"American protocol favors the extension of warm gracious hospitality and I put what he did in that context," he said.

Other presidents have flirted with controversial greetings of foreign leaders. President Clinton apparently semi-bowed to Japan's Emperor Akihito but the White House said it was a slight tilt.

And while President Bush never bowed to King Abdullah, he famously held hands with him in 2005 while walking on his ranch in Texas.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs addressed the issue Thursday when he denied that the president bowed.

"I think he bent over with both hands to shake his hand," Gibbs said before asking why the incident was being raised a week after it happened.

When a reporter said people were still discussing the incident, Gibbs used his signature sarcasm to dismiss the claim.

"I can only imagine it is of great cause and concern for many people struggling with the economy," he said.

FOX News' Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.

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