Sunday, November 07, 2010

It's Tough to be the King

From NY Times coverage of O's Indian adventure regards the 'town hall meeting':
“We call him the world king, king of the world,” said Chetman Rawal, 20, who studies commerce at the college. “I think he will change the world.”
To be fair, these foreign idealists don't have the luxury of seeing the wild-eyed version of their hero talking about punishing enemies and ditches and acting stupidly. It's sometimes hardest to maintain the mojo in your own backyard.

But this is not a knock on the trip at large. There are some benefits to appearing in India and talking to youngsters about how Pakistan... not making progress against militants "as quick as we'd like." Pakistan has a lot of potential, but has some "extremist elements within it," the president said. "The problem has to be addressed."
While not all the town hall attendees were impressed, the answer wasn't directed at them but rather at Islamabad. Dubya tried the same trick by signing a nuclear deal with New Delhi and we're still fighting the ISI's proxy army and searching for bin Laden, but props to Obama where due; the outside pressure is needed. This trip will also produce outside pressure on China.

As to a video or transcript, hard to locate yet but here's a Voice of America report about one of the other questions:
Mr. Obama had this advice for a young man who asked about core moral values versus materialism.

"I don't want any young person here to be dismissive of a healthy materialism because in a country like India, there are still a lot of people trapped in poverty, and you should be working to try to lift folks out of poverty, and companies and businesses have a huge role in making that happen," Mr. Obama said.
Doesn't sound very Ghandi-like. Here's another from OneIndia News:
Obama stated that US can't withdraw army completely from Afghanistan. He described Afghanistan as more complicated problem. US need to follow Iraq model in Afghanistan.
Would that be the same "Iraq model" he opposed or another one?

The media meme was "students ask tough questions" but were they scripted or pre-screened like US town halls? Seems the answer would be yes. According to this report there were only six questions in total, so if the event lasted an hour as advertised Obama did what he does here--filibustered his answers to an average of 10 minutes each. That would be like an Obama presser with the White House media. But as always it's the symbolism that really counts, not the substance.

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