The right’s preoccupation with bowing in recent years has been a little annoying. When Eisenhower bowed to foreign leaders it wasn’t important; when H.W. Bush bowed to foreign leaders no one cared; but when Obama greeted Japanese Emperor Akihito with a customary bow, the right went berserk.
Newt Gingrich, in particular, harped on this for years, talking on the campaign trail about how “tired” he is of the president “bowing” on the international stage. I couldn’t help but notice, then, that Gingrich was in Paris last week, where he met the Maryam Rajavi, the France-based leader of MEK, a controversial Iranian opposition group.
When Gingrich approached Rajavi, he bowed. (I’m not clear on why; as best as I can tell, bowing is not an Iranian custom.)
I posted this image – Gingrich was not, in context, admiring her shoes – but you can click on it to see the whole video.
There is a larger question about American politicians and their associations with MEK. It’s not a partisan issue – as Max Fisher noted today, “In March, the Treasury Department launched an investigation into whether some of these Americans had accepted lavish – and illegal – speaking fees from the group. Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, said he’d earned $150,000 speaking on behalf of the group.”
And while that’s certainly of interest, I can’t quite get over Gingrich. The guy whines incessantly about Obama bowing, and then he goes to France to meet with an Iranian, at which point he ignores years of complaining and bows to an activist from a culture where bowing is uncommon?