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US media on ‘Howdy, Modi’: Typical Trumpish event 

New Delhi, September 23

The day after dust settled on the ‘Howdy, Modi’ rally, American newspapers had different takes on the event. The unprecedented, four hours of live coverage over all Indian TV channels, however, contrasted with passing mention in the US where people had other pressing issues of domestic importance such as whether US President Donald Trump had lied about his conversation with the Ukrainian President and how the Department of Defence’s surreptitious transfer of funds for the wall on the Mexican border was not going to be enough.

Most newspapers had a sober take on the ‘Howdy, Modi’ event which they clubbed with Trump’s another engagement later in the day with the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. The Houston Chronicle gave Modi a lower billing than Morrison, opening its story on the two events with, “President Donald Trump’s run-up to the UN General Assembly was a dash on Sunday through two key political states with two world leaders at events that felt like his raucous campaign rallies.

“In Wapakoneta, Ohio, Trump and Australian PM Scott Morrison visited a recycled paper factory being opened by an Australian businessman who is investing billions of dollars in the US to create thousands of manufacturing jobs. Ohioans crowded into a hot factory chanted “USA USA” when Trump talked about products emblazoned with the words “Made in America”.

As for the rally, the US media has had enough of them already. “The event had the feel of one of Trump’s campaign rallies, complete with a packed venue and a roaring crowd, and Trump treated it that way at times,” noted Houston Chronicle. 

The venerable Wall Street Journal described “Howdy, Modi” as a “spectacle” whose primary aim was to help Trump pick up a “larger share of this growing voters bloc in 2020 than he did in 2016”. It also noted the “irony of a President who campaigns against immigration saluting a rally of immigrants”.

However, the WSJ said the joint appearance (Modi-Trump) also “underscores the growing strategic significance of US-Indian ties. The world’s two largest democracies are a vital check on China’s ambitions to dominate the Asia-Pacific region, as Mr Trump recognises and Barack Obama did as well”.

America’s leading contrarian Bernie Sanders dampened the celebrations when in an op-ed on the day of the rally in Houston Chronicle, he wrote, “to be clear, Pakistan has also often played a bad role in Kashmir. But I believe the US President must speak clearly in support of international humanitarian law and in support of a UN-backed peaceful resolution between India and Pakistan that respects the will of the Kashmiri people.” 

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