President Barack Obama kicked off his Asia trip in India today with a speech at the Taj Mahal Palace, the very same hotel attacked by terrorists two years ago, as a symbolic gesture “absolutely” meant to send a message. Obama has made a priority of strengthening ties with India and other Asian countries and so concurrent with his visit he stopped by our local newspaper, the New York Times, to outline his mission in Mumbai and beyond.
Knowing full well after the midterm elections that all Americans care about today is the economy, Obama made the case for his Asia trip in a discussion of dollars and cents:
It is for this reason that I set a goal of doubling America’s exports in the next five years. To do that, we need to find new customers in new markets for American-made goods. And some of the fastest-growing markets in the world are in Asia, where I’m traveling this week.
It is hard to overstate the importance of Asia to our economic future. Asia is home to three of the world’s five largest economies, as well as a rapidly expanding middle class with rising incomes. My trip will therefore take me to four Asian democracies — India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan — each of which is an important partner for the United States. I will also participate in two summit meetings — the Group of 20 industrialized nations and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation — that will focus on economic growth.
But don’t get scared because they’re not going to take our jobs, he writes: “we’ll be looking to resolve outstanding issues on behalf of American exporters — including American automakers and workers. If we can, we’ll be able to complete an agreement that supports jobs and prosperity in America.” Whew.
The rest of the op-ed is, of course, worth a read, but beyond substance, the man’s one-line bio is pretty awesome:
Barack Obama is the president of the United States.
That he is.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 6, 2010