The LA Times today gushed about a new era in US-India relations. They seem to forget what Bush accomplished in that regard (read to the end).
But the Indians are insulted by Obama’s incessant gum chewing on this latest trip.
To cleanse the palate, I believe formal diplomatic protocol in this situation requires him to offer Narendra Modi a piece of his Bubblicious. Two points. One: Is it Nicorette he’s chewing? That would explain, at least, why he couldn’t refrain from smacking away despite knowing he’d be on camera for hours with India’s PM during a formal state parade. How bad is this guy’s smoking habit, though, if he couldn’t make it through an afternoon without a hit of nicotine? Remember, this isn’t the first time recently that he’s been criticized overseas for chewing gum at an international summit. Indian media obviously noticed his “ungainly” display, as you’ll see below. Either he was jonesing awfully hard for a smoke or today’s the day he moved officially from the YOLO phase of his presidency to the WGAF phase.
Two: This is the sort of trivial faux pas that the media would have hyperventilated over had it come from Bush, evidence of his essential chimp-like redneck gaucheness. President Cool naturally gets a pass. But maybe that helps explain why Indian media is coming down on O today: Over there, it’s Bush who’s the favored ally, not Obama.
“Indians are pro-Bush,” said Gurcharan Das, a prominent writer. “He saw that with China rising, America needed a big country to be an ally. He hyphenated India with China and de-hyphenated it with Pakistan and Indians loved that.”
Whatever the view may be of him elsewhere, in India the 43rd president is seen as a straight-talking statesman. In 2008, Modi’s predecessor as prime minister, Manmohan Singh, assured Bush: “The Indian people deeply love you.”…
The things that drive other foreigners nuts—the unshakable certitude, the folksy language—Indians like.
“George W. Bush occupies a special place in the minds of many Indian foreign policy elites,” Sadanand Dhume, an India-born specialist on the country at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. “In a nutshell, Bush took India seriously.”
Exit question: Does O chew gum during formal events here at home too? He’s done it a few times, if memory serves, when he’s out on the trail promoting a new policy and speaking at a rally. The suit jacket comes off and the gum goes in; the occasion is only semi-formal so he indulges a bit. I’ve never seen him do it at a formal event, though, I believe. If he thinks it’s tacky here at home, I’m not sure why he’d have a different rule abroad. Fewer American cameramen around, I suppose.
Watch the video at the link. The newscast is in Hindi, but see how many times the news reader says “chewing gum.”