When I consider the habit of our current president to bow before foreign heads of state as if he were a peasant supplicant instead of the Leader of the Free World, I can't help but think that he's ashamed of the freedoms that our very first patriots and statesmen won for us - to say nothing of the manner in which they won them. He's determined to take them away here and act as if they're marks of shame while he's abroad.
The White House is calling it "the diplomacy of deference." (And btw, can we retire the phrase "the politcs of _____" and all such variants? "The diplomacy of deference" is a fancy-nice way of saying "acting deferential," so just SAY "The President acted deferential." Ah, but it doesn't sound grand and statesmanlike that way, does it?) I'm not sure that he ought to be acting that way, however, especially during war when our adversaries will score propaganda points by circulating those images to boost their morale and inflame their people's sentiment against us.
His supporters can claim it's respecting Japanese culture all they like, but the cultural message I see being sent here is called "kowtowing." It's not unreasonable to think that Japan may soon face a nuclear-armed, Chinese-backed North Korea. Can they look to us and our bowing, scraping President with confidence in that scenario? Can they look to his dithering about Iraq and Afghanistan; to his treating prisoners of war as so many pickpockets and public drunkards instead of as enemy soldiers; to ignoring both his own hand-picked general's assessment and his own cabinet's plans about the War on Terror, even when he solicited those opinions; can they look upon how badly his personally-backed candidates fared in the recent governors' elections and his complete disavowal of the outcome; can they possibly see all that and see a strong leader who can be relied upon?
What they can see is a man who speaks in glowing terms of himself and elevates his scant accomplishments, but who bows when representing his people to a foreign power. Sadly, so do our enemies.