Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Etiquette of the Rich and Famous => Topic started by: Jolie_kitten on November 12, 2010, 07:55:13 AM

Title: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Jolie_kitten on November 12, 2010, 07:55:13 AM
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101109/ap_on_re_as/as_indonesia_michelle_s_handshake

So, the Indonesian minister's religious beliefs not permit him to touch women who aren't family members. Nonetheless, he did shake hands with the First Lady (she initiated the handshake). He then posted a tweet about how he did not want to shake her hand and he just felt obligated to it. Now my few questions:

Was it for Michelle Obama/her staff to find out beforehand that the minister's conservative beliefs do not permit him to shake hands with ladies?
OR
Should he have let her know beforehand that he doesn't shake hands, so that public awkwardness should be avoided?
OR
Upon her attempting to initiate a handshake, should he have just smiled and tell her "Sorry, I don't shake hands for religious reasons"?

ALSO,
Once he had agreed to shake her  hand, against his beliefs, was it wrong of him to state he did not agree to it?

What do you think is the right way to tackle this issue?
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Morty'sCleaningLady on November 12, 2010, 08:03:30 AM
Well, this is a situation where there was most likely a miscommunication.  So many different cultures have unique rules whether it's not shaking hands with an opposite gender, not showing the heel of your shoe or everyone's EHell favorite 'outdoor shoes inside'. 

The Indonesian minister only had two choices when Mrs. Obama made a tactical error.  He could not shake her hand (Headlines read: Cold shoulder to first lady!) or he could shake it and have to explain to those who follow his religion why he did it. 

If I were him, I wouldn't have shaken her hand but done something kindly, like compliment her shoes.  I'd also have my aide-de-camp tell her aide-de-camp that much like Donald Trump, I don't shake hands. 

Has Michelle apologized for the blunder yet? 
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: PeasNCues on November 12, 2010, 08:06:00 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

But, the Indonesian minister made the choice to shake her hand. I am not sure about the tone of his twitter, but he should not whine about shaking her hand when he could have politely declined for religious reasons.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: camlan on November 12, 2010, 08:09:51 AM
Well, this is a situation where there was most likely a miscommunication.  So many different cultures have unique rules whether it's not shaking hands with an opposite gender, not showing the heel of your shoe or everyone's EHell favorite 'outdoor shoes inside'. 

The Indonesian minister only had two choices when Mrs. Obama made a tactical error.  He could not shake her hand (Headlines read: Cold shoulder to first lady!) or he could shake it and have to explain to those who follow his religion why he did it. 

If I were him, I wouldn't have shaken her hand but done something kindly, like compliment her shoes.  I'd also have my aide-de-camp tell her aide-de-camp that much like Donald Trump, I don't shake hands. 

Has Michelle apologized for the blunder yet? 

He could have pressed his hands together and bowed respectfully. That most likely would have signaled Mrs. Obama to bow in return and not to push the hand shake. He must have some sort of greeting for when he meets women he's not related to. But I can see how, in the pressure of the moment, his mind probably went blank and he did what felt he had to do to appear gracious.

Admittedly, I was surprised by the incident, as I thought that this sort of thing was dealt with in preparing for such trips, so that Mrs. Obama should have been made aware of the minister's practice and been prepared with an alternate greeting.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Two Ravens on November 12, 2010, 08:11:26 AM
The minister was very ungracious part saying later that she all but forced him, when it's clearly not the case in the video. It sounds like there was a line of people greeting Ms. Obama and her husband, and she was shaking hands with everybody. It would be hard to guess that this one person would create a media sensation by shaking her hand.

Anyway, She was was well within the bounds of the social occasion she had presumably been briefed on. Had he wished not to shake a woman's hand he could have done so gracefully. He is the diplomat. She is the visiting dignitary. They are not held to the same standard, and the standard for the diplomat is and should be higher. Nothing she did was in violation of ordinary local customs.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Bibliophile on November 12, 2010, 08:13:25 AM
It's a receiving line, what did he think was going to happen?  And once he made the decision to shake her hand, he should've graciously kept his mouth shut.  Tweeting about it seems very juvenile.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Dindrane on November 12, 2010, 08:24:21 AM
I saw a video of this incident, and it looks like he was reaching his hands out towards Mrs. Obama at the same time, or perhaps even before, she reached her hand out to shake his.

So perhaps the minister thought that Mrs. Obama was reaching to shake his hand, but it looks like Mrs. Obama likely thought the same of the minister.  It's very poor form, in my opinion, to paint the situation as entirely Mrs. Obama's fault.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Sharnita on November 12, 2010, 08:24:45 AM
In his position he will meet and recieve women from other cultures who are unaware or just automatically conditioned to shake hands.  He should have a contingency plan that allows both of them to deal with it gracefully.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Winterlight on November 12, 2010, 08:51:19 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

But, the Indonesian minister made the choice to shake her hand. I am not sure about the tone of his twitter, but he should not whine about shaking her hand when he could have politely declined for religious reasons.

Agreed. He should have kept his mouth shut.

Quote
In footage of the official welcome, Sembiring appeared to share his countrymen's enthusiasm. He smiled broadly as he shook the president's hand and then reached with both hands to grasp Michelle Obama's. But later he said she forced their contact.

It sounds like she thought he was reaching for her hand.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: cbcb on November 12, 2010, 08:59:27 AM
He's pretty darn rude to put the blame on her. She's holding her hand static, he turns with a big smile, reaches out to her hand, and shakes it several times - in the video it is clear, he is the source of both the contact and the motion.

So he's a liar in addition to breaking his own moral code. Nice.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Twik on November 12, 2010, 09:02:15 AM
I wonder why the world is so tolerant of people who wouldn't shake a woman's hand, when there would be screams of outrage if someone said "I didn't want to shake her hand, because of her race".
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Peggy Gus on November 12, 2010, 09:05:52 AM
Well, this is a situation where there was most likely a miscommunication.  So many different cultures have unique rules whether it's not shaking hands with an opposite gender, not showing the heel of your shoe or everyone's EHell favorite 'outdoor shoes inside'. 

The Indonesian minister only had two choices when Mrs. Obama made a tactical error.  He could not shake her hand (Headlines read: Cold shoulder to first lady!) or he could shake it and have to explain to those who follow his religion why he did it. 

If I were him, I wouldn't have shaken her hand but done something kindly, like compliment her shoes.  I'd also have my aide-de-camp tell her aide-de-camp that much like Donald Trump, I don't shake hands. 

Has Michelle apologized for the blunder yet?  

Why should she?
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Twik on November 12, 2010, 09:12:12 AM
He could have pressed his hands together and bowed respectfully. That most likely would have signaled Mrs. Obama to bow in return and not to push the hand shake. He must have some sort of greeting for when he meets women he's not related to. But I can see how, in the pressure of the moment, his mind probably went blank and he did what felt he had to do to appear gracious.

I can't figure out why an important government official would "go blank" under the "pressure of the moment". He's meeting an American, who normally shakes hands. He didn't tell his aides to warn her in advance not to offer her hand. What did he *think* was going to happen? The bolded above would have been graceful, and no one would have thought twice about the gesture.

The blunder, if any, was all his, and he should have the decency not to complain about being unprepared for standard diplomatic protocol.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: cbcb on November 12, 2010, 09:13:00 AM
Well, this is a situation where there was most likely a miscommunication.  So many different cultures have unique rules whether it's not shaking hands with an opposite gender, not showing the heel of your shoe or everyone's EHell favorite 'outdoor shoes inside'.  

The Indonesian minister only had two choices when Mrs. Obama made a tactical error.  He could not shake her hand (Headlines read: Cold shoulder to first lady!) or he could shake it and have to explain to those who follow his religion why he did it.  

If I were him, I wouldn't have shaken her hand but done something kindly, like compliment her shoes.  I'd also have my aide-de-camp tell her aide-de-camp that much like Donald Trump, I don't shake hands.  

Has Michelle apologized for the blunder yet?  

Why should she?

Yeah, I'd suggest that folks watch the video before proclaiming her rude based on his word. He's not the "reluctant handshaker" he paints himself as.
this one unfortunately has a partially blocking graphic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MzLaKriBtWU - there are other longer clips but the ones I've seen seem to have commentary and I can't screen them for appropriateness at the moment (in public, don't want to be playing sound).

Maybe she shouldn't have been holding her hand out - I don't know. She was going through a handshaking line and in the full clip, she doesn't seem to be offering it, but just having pulled it back from a handshake from the last man in line. She appeared to be presenting an option to him, but the shaking choice was his. I do think the clearest rudeness is his making a mistake and blaming her for it - he could have very easily not reached out and shook, but he clearly chose to do so. If he made a mistake, he could have just said that, and he would have looked less foolish than he did accusing her of being a handshake bully.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: DangerMouth on November 12, 2010, 09:29:45 AM
I wonder why the world is so tolerant of people who wouldn't shake a woman's hand, when there would be screams of outrage if someone said "I didn't want to shake her hand, because of her race".

I toyally agree with you.

Anyway, from looking at the video, it looks to me like he was bringing his two hands together (I don't know what this gesture is called in the Muslim world, in Thailand it's called a wai) and he made a split second choice to change it to the double-handed shake when he saw her outstretched hand.

I give him major points for his graciousness in that instant, to not make her feel awkward. I take all those points away and then some for later tweeting about it. And I completely understand the outrage of his country men (and women) who point out his hipocracy be shaking MO's hand while he's refuses to shake the hands of his female fellow citizens.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Aeris on November 12, 2010, 09:51:45 AM
I wonder why the world is so tolerant of people who wouldn't shake a woman's hand, when there would be screams of outrage if someone said "I didn't want to shake her hand, because of her race".

I toyally agree with you.

Anyway, from looking at the video, it looks to me like he was bringing his two hands together (I don't know what this gesture is called in the Muslim world, in Thailand it's called a wai) and he made a split second choice to change it to the double-handed shake when he saw her outstretched hand.

I give him major points for his graciousness in that instant, to not make her feel awkward. I take all those points away and then some for later tweeting about it. And I completely understand the outrage of his country men (and women) who point out his hipocracy be shaking MO's hand while he's refuses to shake the hands of his female fellow citizens.

I'll give you that the bolded is a possible interpretation of the video. I dont' personally agree with it, but I can see where opinions could reasonably differ.

But even if that's the situation, I feel strongly that in a long receiving line, where everyone else is shaking hands, and the general cultural consensus is that shaking hands is acceptable (as this prohibition is a fringe view in Indonesia), it is absolutely the responsibility of the 'non-handshaking person' to make it clear, either by having one's aides communicate beforehand, or by maintaining the 'hands together' pose, which I have faith Michelle Obama would have reacted appropriately to swiftly and with poise.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Sharnita on November 12, 2010, 09:59:28 AM
I wonder why the world is so tolerant of people who wouldn't shake a woman's hand, when there would be screams of outrage if someone said "I didn't want to shake her hand, because of her race".

I toyally agree with you.

Anyway, from looking at the video, it looks to me like he was bringing his two hands together (I don't know what this gesture is called in the Muslim world, in Thailand it's called a wai) and he made a split second choice to change it to the double-handed shake when he saw her outstretched hand.

I give him major points for his graciousness in that instant, to not make her feel awkward. I take all those points away and then some for later tweeting about it. And I completely understand the outrage of his country men (and women) who point out his hipocracy be shaking MO's hand while he's refuses to shake the hands of his female fellow citizens.

Honestly, I don't see it as the same thing.  I think the idea is that he'd show an equivalent sign of respect without physical contact so it is not an idicator of superiority based on gender/race.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Aeris on November 12, 2010, 10:00:07 AM
I wonder why the world is so tolerant of people who wouldn't shake a woman's hand, when there would be screams of outrage if someone said "I didn't want to shake her hand, because of her race".

Well, as vehement as I am about most things that I perceive as sexist, I actually do believe this one can go either way. The thing that gets confusing here is that handshaking is both 1) a certain level of intimate physical contact and 2) a sign of respect.

If a man refuses to shake a woman's hand because he believes that women are not worth of respect (and would similarly not bow to a woman, for example), then i think it should absolutely be treated the same way as your quoted example.

However, if a man truly simply wants to avoid what he considers an 'intimate physical contact' with a woman he's not related to (or married to), that's altogether a different kettle of fish. Similarly, if in a particular culture it is common to kiss friends on the cheek, or even the lips, in greeting, but you are uncomfortable with that level of intimate physical contact with someone of the opposite sex who is not your partner, I wouldn't think it *automatically* disrespectful to choose not to engage in that particular ritual.

A genuine problem here though is that it can be difficult to separate one stated reason from the assumption that the other is the true underlying cause....
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Just Lori on November 12, 2010, 10:01:37 AM
After watching the raw video, this is what I can come up with:

MO shook hands with several people, male and female.  Only one of those people was upset enough to tweet about it.  I do not know enough about Indonesian culture to know if the prohibition against touching women would be fairly prominent in the culture or whether it's something that depends on the person and the setting.  If it's a personal choice, then the onus is on you to find a way to greet someone without taking their hand.  It's certainly possible.  If the prohibition is fairly widespread, then everyone should have nodded or politely acknowledged her by shaking her hand.

Here's what I think happened:  The man in question was caught up in the day and shook her hand without giving it a lot of thought.  Afterwards, he was taken to task by others who share his faith for breaking an important rule.  The tweet was a major attempt to save face and put the blame somewhere else.  "She made me touch her!"  It does not reflect well on him.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Aeris on November 12, 2010, 10:03:53 AM
After watching the raw video, this is what I can come up with:

MO shook hands with several people, male and female.  Only one of those people was upset enough to tweet about it.  I do not know enough about Indonesian culture to know if the prohibition against touching women would be fairly prominent in the culture or whether it's something that depends on the person and the setting.  If it's a personal choice, then the onus is on you to find a way to greet someone without taking their hand.  It's certainly possible.  If the prohibition is fairly widespread, then everyone should have nodded or politely acknowledged her by shaking her hand.

Here's what I think happened:  The man in question was caught up in the day and shook her hand without giving it a lot of thought.  Afterwards, he was taken to task by others who share his faith for breaking an important rule.  The tweet was a major attempt to save face and put the blame somewhere else.  "She made me touch her!"  It does not reflect well on him.

This is close to the mark. The man in question is quite famous in Indonesia for more conservative views on these subjects, and was castigated for being hypocritical in shaking Michelle Obama's hand, and reacted by 'blaming' her for the encounter on Twitter.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Squeaks on November 12, 2010, 10:09:31 AM
The idea of a country's leader being so week and slow on his feet to not be able to deal with this does not exactally inspire confidence.  It is really not hard to deal with.  

I also have a hard time seeing it as rude to *offer* your hand to someone.  You can brief people on the general culture all you want, but unless the PM staff as told the other staff exactally what the PM's position is, you really run the risk of making bad assumptions. I suspect many men in his culture/religion make the choice to adapt/make exceptions (many if not all people adapt/make exceptions as we see fit personally) so I am not sure it would be wise to assume all of them practice the same custom.  Western custom is to shake hands to be the polite thing to do is offer the hand (but not demand) as a gesture of our cultures views of good will and then adapt to what they respond. If they choose to shake hands that is their choice, if they respond with a bow, or a polite declination, go with it.  But an extended had is just an offer.  It does not have to be taken and can be declined politely. Heck had she not offered her hand people may have commented. Especially if she offered it to other people and not him.  Better to be consistent.

I think there are classier ways to respond to criticism than the way he did.  Sure he may need to respond, but he can do so without resorting to childish "They started it"

Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Flora Louise on November 12, 2010, 11:34:25 AM

Here's what I think happened:  The man in question was caught up in the day and shook her hand without giving it a lot of thought.  Afterwards, he was taken to task by others who share his faith for breaking an important rule.  The tweet was a major attempt to save face and put the blame somewhere else.  "She made me touch her!"  It does not reflect well on him.

Ah yes, the old "Garden of Eden" ploy. No one will see through that.  >:D
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Jolie_kitten on November 12, 2010, 11:36:13 AM
From what I've read/heard on the matter- not shaking women's hands is not really the norm at a country level, not even among the people who explicitly identify as Muslim- but it is quite widespread among the more devout/conservative Muslims, which do represent a certain segment of the population; and the minister is known to be part of that segment.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: M-theory on November 12, 2010, 11:36:19 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Two Ravens on November 12, 2010, 11:39:58 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand? 
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: PeasNCues on November 12, 2010, 11:41:08 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand? 
Yes she should have. If he is known not to want to shake female's hands, it is her staff's responsibility to be aware of that and make sure she is as well.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: M-theory on November 12, 2010, 11:41:36 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand? 

Isn't that part of their job? Stopping cultural snafus before they start? If not, maybe it should be.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Two Ravens on November 12, 2010, 11:43:26 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand? 
Yes she should have. If he is known not to want to shake female's hands, it is her staff's responsibility to be aware of that and make sure she is as well.

I don't agree.  It is not the responsibility of the First Lady to know the preferences of everyone she is likely to meet.  If the gentlemen did not want to shake hands with her, there are polite ways he could have declined to.  To blame this incident on the First Lady or her staff is ridiculous.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Judah on November 12, 2010, 11:44:56 AM
Was it for Michelle Obama/her staff to find out beforehand that the minister's conservative beliefs do not permit him to shake hands with ladies?
OR
Should he have let her know beforehand that he doesn't shake hands, so that public awkwardness should be avoided?
OR
Upon her attempting to initiate a handshake, should he have just smiled and tell her "Sorry, I don't shake hands for religious reasons"?

ALSO,
Once he had agreed to shake her  hand, against his beliefs, was it wrong of him to state he did not agree to it?

Mrs. Obama's staff should have known the minister's beliefs and prepared Mrs. Obama.  They dropped the ball.

And

The minister's staff should have made it known to Mrs. Obama's staff.  They also dropped the ball.

And

The minister should have gracefully declined to shake Mrs. Obama's hand.  I've seen it done and had it done to me many times.  He dropped the ball.

And

He should never have tweeted about the incident, or at least not tried to blame it on Mrs. Obama.  She made him shake her hand?  It makes him look like an ungracious weakling.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: PeasNCues on November 12, 2010, 11:46:17 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand?  
Yes she should have. If he is known not to want to shake female's hands, it is her staff's responsibility to be aware of that and make sure she is as well.

I don't agree.  It is not the responsibility of the First Lady to know the preferences of everyone she is likely to meet.  If the gentlemen did not want to shake hands with her, there are polite ways he could have declined to.  To blame this incident on the First Lady or her staff is ridiculous.
I'm not saying it is entirely her staff's fault. Please read my original post.

I am not aware of the specifics of the event she was attending at the time, but as a representative of our country, it is absolutely her responsibility to know how to greet those she will be meeting with. It is part of international politics AND international business.

We do it all the time here and we're not even important. It just takes a quick, "Don't shake so-and-so's hand for religious reasons."

ETA: My opinion is valid. Please refrain from calling it ridiculous.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Two Ravens on November 12, 2010, 11:53:44 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand?  
Yes she should have. If he is known not to want to shake female's hands, it is her staff's responsibility to be aware of that and make sure she is as well.

I don't agree.  It is not the responsibility of the First Lady to know the preferences of everyone she is likely to meet.  If the gentlemen did not want to shake hands with her, there are polite ways he could have declined to.  To blame this incident on the First Lady or her staff is ridiculous.
I'm not saying it is entirely her staff's fault. Please read my original post.

I am not aware of the specifics of the event she was attending at the time, but as a representative of our country, it is absolutely her responsibility to know how to greet those she will be meeting with. It is part of international politics AND international business.

We do it all the time here and we're not even important. It just takes a quick, "Don't shake so-and-so's hand for religious reasons."

ETA: My opinion is valid. Please refrain from calling it ridiculous.

I thought you were not blaming her or her staff?  That is what I am calling ridiculous.  That is my opinion and it is also valid.

Michelle Obama was briefed on the local customs.  Most people there had no problem (and seemed delighted) to shake her hand.  She probably shook 100 hands on this trip so far. One person did not want to, and had the option of declining, but for some reason did not.  He then blamed her.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: PeasNCues on November 12, 2010, 11:56:31 AM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand?  
Yes she should have. If he is known not to want to shake female's hands, it is her staff's responsibility to be aware of that and make sure she is as well.

I don't agree.  It is not the responsibility of the First Lady to know the preferences of everyone she is likely to meet.  If the gentlemen did not want to shake hands with her, there are polite ways he could have declined to.  To blame this incident on the First Lady or her staff is ridiculous.
I'm not saying it is entirely her staff's fault. Please read my original post.

I am not aware of the specifics of the event she was attending at the time, but as a representative of our country, it is absolutely her responsibility to know how to greet those she will be meeting with. It is part of international politics AND international business.

We do it all the time here and we're not even important. It just takes a quick, "Don't shake so-and-so's hand for religious reasons."

ETA: My opinion is valid. Please refrain from calling it ridiculous.

I thought you were not blaming her or her staff?  That is what I am calling ridiculous.  That is my opinion and it is also valid.

Michelle Obama was briefed on the local customs.  Most people there had no problem (and seemed delighted) to shake her hand.  One person did not want to, and had the option of declining, but for some reason did not.  He then blamed her.
Who said I was not blaming her or her staff? I said it wasn't entirely her staff's fault. All they had to do was identify that one person to Mrs. Obama so she was aware. Happens all the time. I agree that he is acting petulent.

Scout Finch has a good run down of how I feel.

I believe that calling someone else's opinion ridiculous is quite rude.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Two Ravens on November 12, 2010, 12:06:18 PM
I honestly thing Mrs. President's staff really dropped the ball here. She should have been briefed about this before she went.

This very much.

 ???  She should have been briefed not to shake this one particular gentlemen's hand?  
Yes she should have. If he is known not to want to shake female's hands, it is her staff's responsibility to be aware of that and make sure she is as well.

I don't agree.  It is not the responsibility of the First Lady to know the preferences of everyone she is likely to meet.  If the gentlemen did not want to shake hands with her, there are polite ways he could have declined to.  To blame this incident on the First Lady or her staff is ridiculous.
I'm not saying it is entirely her staff's fault. Please read my original post.

I am not aware of the specifics of the event she was attending at the time, but as a representative of our country, it is absolutely her responsibility to know how to greet those she will be meeting with. It is part of international politics AND international business.

We do it all the time here and we're not even important. It just takes a quick, "Don't shake so-and-so's hand for religious reasons."

ETA: My opinion is valid. Please refrain from calling it ridiculous.

I thought you were not blaming her or her staff?  That is what I am calling ridiculous.  That is my opinion and it is also valid.

Michelle Obama was briefed on the local customs.  Most people there had no problem (and seemed delighted) to shake her hand.  One person did not want to, and had the option of declining, but for some reason did not.  He then blamed her.
Who said I was not blaming her or her staff? I said it wasn't entirely her staff's fault. All they had to do was identify that one person to Mrs. Obama so she was aware. Happens all the time. I agree that he is acting petulent.

Scout Finch has a good run down of how I feel.

I believe that calling someone else's opinion ridiculous is quite rude.

Ok, I apologize for calling your opinion ridiculous.  I just do not agree with it.  How do you know this "happens all the time?"

I do not think the FL should have to remember one person whom she should not shake hands with out of 100 that will.  I do not think that is the responsibility of a visiting head-of-state.  It is the responsibility of a diplomat, however, to know how to politely decline to shake someone's hand (and not to whine about it afterwards).
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Jolie_kitten on November 12, 2010, 12:17:13 PM
I personally see the ball was more in his/his staff's court to let it be known to her/her staff that he does not shake hands; shaking hands with everyone is part of the American culture, while not shaking women's hands, while being an option that many religious people in Indonesia stick to, isn't really part of the Indonesian culture. Therefore, it would have been a lot easier for his staff to figure that MO will most likely initiate a handshake unless informed not to, so they could let her know the minister would rather not do it, than for her staff to just guess, without being told, that the guy does not do handshakes with women.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: PeasNCues on November 12, 2010, 12:18:13 PM
Ok, I apologize for calling your opinion ridiculous.  I just do not agree with it.
Thank you.  :) I am not going to insist that you agree with me.  ;D

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 How do you know this "happens all the time?"
Because there are teams of people in the white house whose entire jobs are to make sure things like this don't happen (yes, I know this). There are teams of people in commands, agencies, etc to make sure things like this don't happen and their representatives are sent ahead fully knowledgable about how to greet people (at the very least). We have one here in our command.

They check the list of attending and research them to see if the FL needs to know anything. Since this man is well known (it seems, I have no clue who he is as it's not my job to) for his religious convictions, she should have been told that.

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I do not think the FL should have to remember one person whom she should not shake hands with out of 100 that will.  I do not think that is the responsibility of a visiting head-of-state.  

Why not? As FL, she needs to make sure that any interaction with any foriegn dignitary goes as smoothly as possible. And it is not as if the FL doesn't have resources available to her to make this known. And, recognizing one face out of 100 wouldn't be that hard if she were told ahead of time.

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It is the responsibility of a diplomat, however, to know how to politely decline to shake someone's hand (and not to whine about it afterwards).
This is very true. It is the responsibility of any diplomat to handle any hickups that may occur with continued dignity.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Two Ravens on November 12, 2010, 12:26:20 PM
I personally see the ball was more in his/his staff's court to let it be known to her/her staff that he does not shake hands; shaking hands with everyone is part of the American culture, while not shaking women's hands, while being an option that many religious people in Indonesia stick to, isn't really part of the Indonesian culture. Therefore, it would have been a lot easier for his staff to figure that MO will most likely initiate a handshake unless informed not to, so they could let her know the minister would rather not do it, than for her staff to just guess, without being told, that the guy does not do handshakes with women.

Yes, I agree the onus was on him rather than her.

I don't think it is up to the FL's staff to determine the handshaking preferences of everyone she might meet on a diplomatic visit.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: PeasNCues on November 12, 2010, 12:29:17 PM
I personally see the ball was more in his/his staff's court to let it be known to her/her staff that he does not shake hands; shaking hands with everyone is part of the American culture, while not shaking women's hands, while being an option that many religious people in Indonesia stick to, isn't really part of the Indonesian culture. Therefore, it would have been a lot easier for his staff to figure that MO will most likely initiate a handshake unless informed not to, so they could let her know the minister would rather not do it, than for her staff to just guess, without being told, that the guy does not do handshakes with women.
I do agree that the fault lies a lot more with the man himself and his staff than with the FL's staff. And of course, if the FL wasn't told about his religious convictions, no fault lies with her.

I just don't think remembering one fact about greeting one person is asking a lot of the FL, who seems to be an intelligent and gracious person.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: geordicat on November 12, 2010, 12:33:40 PM
When I saw the clip I immediately thought "Why was he then in the line to shake hands?  He saw what was going on.  Couldn't he zip to the end or bow out?"  It seemed to me there was time.  And.. it's a receiving line.  He stood in it. 

Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: DangerMouth on November 12, 2010, 01:23:44 PM
When I saw the clip I immediately thought "Why was he then in the line to shake hands?  He saw what was going on.  Couldn't he zip to the end or bow out?"  It seemed to me there was time.  And.. it's a receiving line.  He stood in it. 

ITA. It wasn't like he couldn't see what was coming. He wasn't the head of state, nor the most important person in that line by a long shot. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. He is a diplomat. If he couldn't figure out a way to be diplomatic about the handshake he should have seen coming, he should have at least kept quite about it afterwards.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Sharnita on November 12, 2010, 01:33:46 PM
but even if they had briefed her when he made a move as if to shake her hand what is she to do?  It looks like he wants to shake hands, she has been told he doesn't shake hands with women, which way does she go?  If he is indeed trying to shake hands and she rebuffs him based on the advice of her staff that could cause a huge incident too.  I don't see how being briefed in this case would have done a ton of good.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: geordicat on November 12, 2010, 03:21:05 PM
Maybe a separate line for non hand shakers? I can honestly see both sides here.  But he stood in the line where they were going to shake hands. 
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: boxy on November 12, 2010, 03:47:28 PM
Mrs. Obama has a STAFF of people who deal specifically with protocol issues.  Had they done their job she would never have extended her hand.  Or maybe she knew and didn't care.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: cbcb on November 12, 2010, 03:50:02 PM
Mrs. Obama has a STAFF of people who deal specifically with protocol issues.  Had they done their job she would never have extended her hand.  Or maybe she knew and didn't care.

Did you watch the video? It's not even apparent that she was extending until he turned and reached out. Your second statement is pretty much the definition of an interesting assumption.

I could see both sides until the point where he got on Twitter claiming she "forced" him to handshake. Because while people can quibble on details, the tape is very clear that his version is clearly untrue.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: JeanFromBNA on November 12, 2010, 03:51:42 PM
No, it isn't the responsibility of the First Lady's staff to know everybody's handshake preference.   But Mrs. Obama and the President should have been instructed about local customs and given a Plan "B," for this was sure to come up in Indonesia.  The Plan B could have been for her to hold her hand ready at waist level to see what the other person initiated.

The Obamas should consider getting more experienced protocol advisers. This incident, plus previous incidents of bowing to the Japanese Emperor and the Saudi King, plus the DC party crashers suggest that they could benefit from more seasoned advice.

I thought that it was tacky for the Minister to tweet about it later.  Talk about CYA.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: cbcb on November 12, 2010, 03:53:32 PM
No, it isn't the responsibility of the First Lady's staff to know everybody's handshake preference.   But Mrs. Obama and the President should have been instructed about local customs and given a Plan "B," for this was sure to come up in Indonesia.  The Plan B could have been for her to hold her hand ready at waist level to see what the other person initiated.

The Obamas should consider getting more experienced protocol advisers. This incident, plus previous incidents of bowing to the Japanese Emperor and the Saudi King, plus the DC party crashers suggest that they could benefit from more seasoned advice.

I thought that it was tacky for the Minister to tweet about it later.  Talk about CYA.

See, this is where I'm confused. He was criticized for greeting some people in their traditional way. Now she's criticized for greeting people in the American tradition. So how are they supposed to greet people to not be criticized?

The DC party crashers suggest that someone clearly needs to shape up - not sure if it's them or their "people". Maybe the people who check the guest list?  :D

Your plan B is exactly what she (to my eye, at least) seemed to be doing in the video. Additionally, despite early reports, it is apparently not the standard in Indonesia for men to avoid touching non-related women - again from the clip, many other men are shaking hands with her.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Hawkwatcher on November 12, 2010, 04:19:58 PM
but even if they had briefed her when he made a move as if to shake her hand what is she to do?  It looks like he wants to shake hands, she has been told he doesn't shake hands with women, which way does she go?  If he is indeed trying to shake hands and she rebuffs him based on the advice of her staff that could cause a huge incident too.  I don't see how being briefed in this case would have done a ton of good.

Exactly.  If she had rebuffed him, he might have tweeted about "that arrogant American woman who snubbed me."  I don't think she could have done anything differently.
Title: Re: Michelle Obama handshake
Post by: Fluffy Cat on November 12, 2010, 04:38:12 PM
Mrs. Obama has a STAFF of people who deal specifically with protocol issues.  Had they done their job she would never have extended her hand.  Or maybe she knew and didn't care.

The bolded seems like needless speculation to me.  I would agree with you and some PP's if it was a prevalent custom at play in the country.  It isn't.  Addressing some other PP's, it may not seem like a big deal for staff to brief Obama on not shaking this one man's hand, but we have now taken protocal to a detailed level that would necessarily include briefing the FL on the personal preferences of everyone she meets, not just hand shaking.  Should she be told that Diplomat X is rather sensitive about his height so it would be better if she wore flat shoes to any event he's at?  And also that Diplomat Z believes the color blue to be unlucky according to her tradition and it should be avoided?

Big issues with heads of state? Sure.  Widespread cultural traditions?  Sure.  Widespread religious traditions.  Yes again.  Personal preferences that do not meet any of those conditions for everyone she meets?  Not really reasonable in my book.