News photos of President Barack Obama bowing to Japan's emperor have incensed critics here, who said the US leader should stand tall when representing America overseas.
Obama on Monday was in China, having wrapped up the Japan leg of his Asia trip two days earlier. But Washington's punditocracy was still weighing whether or not the US president had disgraced his country two days earlier by having taken a deep bow at the waist while meeting Japan's Emperor Akihito.
Political talk shows have played and replayed the moment from the second day of Obama's week-long Asia tour, which set the blogosphere on fire and chat show tongues wagging.
"I don't know why President Obama thought that was appropriate. Maybe he thought it would play well in Japan. But it's not appropriate for an American president to bow to a foreign one," said conservative pundit William Kristol speaking on the Fox News Sunday program, adding that the gesture bespoke a United States that has become weak and overly-deferential under Obama.
Another conservative voice, Bill Bennett, said on CNN's State of the Union program, "It's ugly. I don't want to see it."
"We don't defer to emperors. We don't defer to kings or emperors. The president of the United States this coupled with so many apologies from the United States is just another thing," said Bennett.