Commentary: Obama’s new best friend
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Scripps Howard News Service
Now that the Chinese proved impervious to his blandishments on currency and trade, President Barack Obama has turned his campaign of global conciliation and cooperation toward another emerging Asian giant ó India.
He welcomed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the White House in an elaborate ceremony featuring the Marine band. The two met privately, then strode down a red-carpeted corridor to a joint press conference.
The president and first lady repeatedly pointed out that the prime minister and his wife were the first official state visitors of the Obama administration and the guests of honor at the first state dinner ó red lentil soup and green curry prawns.
The site of the dinner was a heated tent behind the White House to accommodate more ó 400 or so ó of the Obamas’ guests than the 140-seat State Dining Room.
At the press conference, only two reporters ó one American, one from India ó got questions. What was important was the atmospherics.
Obama stressed how much the United States and India have in common. “… we’re the world’s two largest democracies. We have a range of shared values and ideals. We’re both entrepreneurial societies. We’re both multiethnic societies. We are societies that believe in human rights and core freedoms that are enshrined in our founding documents.”
The state dinner was an “opportunity to convey to the prime minister and the people of India, as India assumes its rightful place as a global leader in this century, that you will have no better friend and partner than the United States of America.”
If Obama fails in his campaign to win friends and influence countries, it won’t be for lack of trying.