Now, that certainly looks like a bow to me. If, in fact, President Obama did bow to King Abdullah then this would somewhere between a mildly disturbing to terribly troubling act of foreign policy protocol. (depending on just how much you dislike the president that is) Of course, it now appears that the bow is now just the beginning of the story.
This story received nearly no attention outside the blogosphere, talk radio, and some on Fox News. Still, it received enough attention that the administration felt the need to "clarify".
The White House is denying that the president bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at a G-20 meeting in London, a scene that drew criticism on the right and praise from some Arab outlets.
"It wasn't a bow. He grasped his hand with two hands, and he's taller than King Abdullah," said an Obama aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
By doing so, they have also added another layer to the story. The story is no longer about a mild faux pas but rather it is about whether or not the administration is deceiving us. As the old saying goes, it's not the crime but the cover up. The bow itself is not that big a deal. What is a much bigger deal is a White House that denies what is so obvious to everyone.
This story has all the hallmarks of one that starts on a back burner and winds up a headlining story. It has the first element because it started as one no one seemed to care about. The second is the element of he said/he said. If this story was simply about the bow, it would have gone away a long time ago. It is no longer about that. It's now about a White House that is denying the obvious.
This is also the perfect story to take off in the new media environment. Between Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and all the other new media sources this story will spread whether the MSM talks about it at all or not. For instance, right now there are just over 360,000 viewings of this video on Youtube. If that reaches one million by the end of the day tomorrow, that means the story has legs.
The main reason that I think this story will soon turn into a full blown scandal is because this is exactly the sort of story in which the offending party begins to change and create nuance to their own story. For instance, the White House is now claiming they reached down to shake hands with two hands. This is clearly not the case. So, we will likely see the story change, and it's possible it will change more than once. Once the story starts to change then the narrative takes on a life of its own.
As such, I predict that the bow will Obama's Waterloo, or at least, it will turn into a significant scandal that will drown out his message for at least a week.