Cuckoo for Coconuts
Fareed Zakaria is trumpeting the return of geopolitics in East Asia ahead of President Obama's trip Friday. Writing from his perch at the Washington Post, Zakaria says Obama's trip "is by chance perfectly timed," as the past year has witnessed a sea change in Asian attitudes toward American power. China's rise was "easy to welcome . . . when it was an abstraction," but now that it is upon us, its neighbors are beginning to fear the Middle Kingdom and seek out U.S. protection.
And the newspaper's editors have a list of things they'd like to see the president accomplish during his visit, especially in India, where they urge him to give "assurance that the United States is committed to maintaining stability in the region" and that Washington has New Delhi's back vis-à-vis Beijing. The editorial also calls on President Obama to "embrace" the "mission" of "ally and defender of Asia's democracies." (For Michael Green's prescriptions in The National Interest's web edition, click here.)
The leader of the free world's journey has stirred up controversy among bloggers, but it has nothing to do with what he'll be doing in Asia. It's how much the trip is costing. Washington Wire reports that the whole thing started when "the right" jumped on Indian media reports that the presidential party would be spending $200 million a day (by comparison, the war in Afghanistan only costs $190 million per diem). Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) even scuffled verbally with CNN's Anderson Cooper over the veracity of the figure (she insisted it was true—Minnesotans must be proud). Snopes.com—not to mention the Pentagon and the White House—has already refuted the figure.
American Digest says, tongue in cheek: "Alas, my hopes and dreams of an invasion of India and the decamping of Obama to declare himself emperor of that sub-continent has been cruelly debunked." ABC News notes that had the president's entourage included thirty-four U.S. Navy ships, as originally reported, it would constitute 11.8 percent of its entire fleet.
And while that may not be true, Hot Air is still dismayed that the presidential entourage rented out every room at a five-star hotel and is installing a teleprompter for Obama's speech to the Indian parliament. JoshuaPundit says the whole thing is still "extravagant and unnecessary, but just not as insane as it seemed to be," and Pundit & Pundette agree.
Another strange report: they're cutting down the coconuts from the trees around Mumbai's Gandhi museum to protect the president's head. Glenn Beck is also apparently worried for the commander in chief's safety, and would rather he didn't go at all. And for a different angle, see Ann Althouse's post on some of the dishes the Indians are preparing to welcome the president.