The first visit by Pope Francis to the United States has blotted out the media sun for the past few days, and he didn’t even have to slam Megyn Kelly to do it. Amid all the joy and anticipation surrounding the visit, which will feature the first-ever papal address before a joint session of Congress, the right-wing media tried to revive a couple of petty anti-Obama memes, failing spectacularly in the process.
First, there was the important news that Breitbart.com went with regarding the arrival of His Holiness in Washington, DC. Their original headline was “Obama Made Pope Francis Wait To Land Plane,” which turned out to be completely wrong. The Pope’s plane did have to maintain a holding pattern for awhile, but as anyone with access to President Obama’s public schedule would have known, the arrival was scheduled for 4 pm, so President Obama actually arrived half an hour early. The Pope’s plane, as it turns out, was even earlier.
Breitbart stealth-edited their story, rather than correcting it, but even their updated version still notes that “there appeared to be no hard feelings from Pope Francis,” because you know how much the Pope hates it when people are early. The original “tardy” story even made The Drudge Report.
The eagle eyes at Breitbart News weren’t finished yet, though. Shortly after Pope Francis touched down to a cacophonous reception, intrepid Breitbart News reporter Charlie Spiering made a familiar observation:
Obama bows to Pope Francis after shaking his hand -> pic.twitter.com/tOkQNm4b9P
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) September 22, 2015
You may recall that right-wingers have a well-known habit of freaking out whenever President Obama allegedly bows to anyone, while ignoring bows by openly white presidents like George W. Bush:
And Dwight Eisenhower:
The bow made it into Spiering’s story, but never caught on as a headline, because, wait for it, conservatives were too busy slamming Obama for not bowing to the Pope:
I did notice Obama didn’t bow to the Pope… Just sayin’ — SMLBound (@SMLBound) September 23, 2015
Obama received the Pope without the traditional genuflection, but Obama does to Saudi and China leaders a big bow
— JoseforRevolution ن (@JoseThePaisa) September 23, 2015
Did Obama bow to the Pope — Leon Wolf (@LeonHWolf) September 23, 2015
i find it funny how Obama will bow to other foreign dignitaries, but not the Pope…
— Kaitlin Free (@kaitlinefree) September 22, 2015
As it turns out, bowing down before the Pope is sort of a thing among some Evangelical Christians, who view it as idolatry. Conversely, Pope Francis himself stirred controversy when he broke with Vatican protocol and bowed to Jordan’s Queen Rania. Perhaps because bowing to the Pope is a more polarizing issue than normal bowing, which is always wrong when Obama does it and perfectly fine when every other president does it, the Obama Pope bow hasn’t caught on.
Or, perhaps the bow didn’t catch on because it really wasn’t a bow, anyway. Spiering’s GIF makes it look like President Obama greeted the pontiff with a slight bow, but if you watch the actual video of the arrival, you can see that the President and the Pope shake hands and converse for a good long time before the Pope gives what looks like a leaning, conversational nod, which Obama then returns, and which the Pope then repeats:
As you can see, this situation presents the best of all worlds, because if you want to be mad at Obama for not bowing, then he was just nodding, but if you want to be mad at him for bowing, then you can do that, too. Or, you could get a life.
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