Will President Obama be fussy about handshakes?
President Barack Obama is not visiting Bangalore or Hyderabad but can he avoid shaking hands with IT industry leaders? Right-wing radio hosts and channels like Fox News will not miss the opportunity to rip into him for warming up to those stealing jobs when America's jobless rate is around 10 per cent, says Thomas Friedman.
The New York Times columnist and author of the best-selling The World is Flat finds America's political climate so toxic that the President's visit days after the November 2 elections is sure to draw bile for leaving his supporters to clean up the mess while he does the rounds of world capitals. The Democrats are expected to get a pasting in the polls. The visit itself has not hit the news in the US so far.
Friedman was speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club in New Delhi. He is shaken by the level of partisanship between the two principal political parties. The only way out of the current distress is for Americans to invest in education and become more innovative and productive than the Indians or the Chinese. But such is the level of distrust that the country is failing to invest in its future and take hard decisions on issues like climate change and energy conservation.
The world is not getting lumpy or bumpy, Friedman says. In fact, he is surprised how flatter it become, since he wrote the book in 2005. Globalisation, he says, is technologically-deterministic; it will not be arrested by trade barriers.
Friedman expects the Republican party to split, and a new Tea Party to emerge, that will be much more right-wing that the current one, which he calls, Tea Kettle Party, one that is just letting off steam. He pins hope on a 'radical centre' that will bring together the Republican left wing, the right wing Democrats and independents. His preferred choice for the 2012 presidential elections? New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg.
More about Vivian FernandesVivian Fernandes is a senior journalist with nearly 30 years of practice, 19 of them in television, all of which he spent at TV18. Vivian’s last assignment was as executive editor of a book on India and China written by the founder of the Network 18 group, Mr Raghav Bahl. He has been an observer of Indian business and politics, and had reported on economic policy making as reporter, chief of Delhi bureau of correspondents and economic policy editor. Vivian has traveled abroad with Prime Ministers Narasimha Rao, Atal Behari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh. He was also reported on the World Trade Organization’s trade talks from Cancun, Hong Kong and Geneva. He continues his association with the Network18 group, but not as an employee.
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