Former Vice President Dick Cheney roundly criticized President Barack Obama this week, contending that the president's bow to Japan's Emperor Akihito signaled weakness.
Cheney told Politico: "Our friends and our allies don't expect it, and our enemies see it as a sign of weakness."
Cheney joined a chorus of detractors, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who took offense when Obama launched a low bow, coupled with a handshake, when he greeted Akihito and Empress Miochiko at their imperial palace in Tokyo this past weekend.
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According to a report in the New York Post, bloggers posted photos showing a then-Vice-President Cheney giving Akihito an erect-posture handshake.
Politico cited White House aides in damage control, saying the approach was deliberate — simply part of Obama’s promise to engage friends and enemies alike, adopting a kinder and gentler U.S. posture abroad.
“I think it's very important for the United States not to assume that what is good for us is automatically good for somebody else,” Obama told the students at a town hall in Shanghai. “And we have to have some modesty about our attitudes towards other countries.”
White House senior adviser David Axelrod, who is accompanying the president on his Asian tour, told Politico that Obama is “governing in just the way that he said he would” during his campaign.
“He believes in vigorous engagement around the world — in strong alliances, in confronting our adversaries and standing up for human rights by making these points in a very public way,” Axelrod added.
But Cheney told Politico he doesn't buy the explanations. "There is no reason for an American president to bow to anyone."
Politico also noted that Iran and North Korea have yet to give credence to Obama’s promise that U.S. engagement will draw out better behavior.
Obama was criticized in April for bending his knee to Saudi King Abdullah at a summit meeting.
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