After President Barack Obama was criticized for bowing to the King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, the White House came up with a clever PR response: “It wasn’t a bow.”
That’s it. That’s the response from the White House. To refute reality even as hundreds of thousands view the event on YouTube.
Yet, insists a White House source speaking to the Politico: “It wasn’t a bow.”
How is one to respond to that? You pull a groundhog out of your hat and call it a rabbit. I object, pointing out the obvious. You simply grin and repeat, “Rabbit.”
This is insulting.
When I first started this blog, I made a point of discussing what would be appropriate in terms of the tone to take in criticizing the president – what would constitute Honorable Dissent. I concluded essentially that while the office of the presidency commands respect, no matter its inhabitant, assertive, principled criticism from the loyal opposition is always appropriate.
So: Is there any reason not to brand the White House spin on this as an outright lie? And if not, then why is the WH lying about this? Why are they refuting reality?
The obvious answer is that the truth is unacceptable, in political terms. The American public would not appreciate their president bowing to heads of foreign powers, so you simply tell them it didn’t happen. The truth doesn’t matter. Perception matters. Power matters. And so you lie.
As to the act itself, I hardly find it worth explaining and defending the obvious, but there will be some die-hard partisans who toe the party line and insist that, yes, a rabbit was just pulled out of a hat. To them I point to Merriam Webster’s dictionary, which defines the relevant verb as “to bend the head, body, or knee in reverence, submission or shame.” It could also mean “to incline the head or body in salutation or assent or to acknowledge applause.”
A review of the video indicates clearly that the president did “bend the head” or “body,” or “incline the head or body.” It may have been a brief physical gesture, but an indisputable one. Whether it was in reverence, submission, shame, salutation, assent or any combination thereof is irrelevant, as any of these motivations render the physical act a bow.
The dishonesty coming from the White House on this issue is shameful.