Trump scored bigly at amazing 'Howdy, Modi' event in Houston
The Trump-hating media are doing their best to ignore or denigrate the landmark, triumphal event yesterday in Houston, as at least 50,000 Indian-Americans attended a rally featuring President Trump, India's newly re-elected Prime Minister Modi, and a variety of dance numbers celebrating their community. For instance, the New York Times, formerly America's paper of record, has no news coverage this morning and one sneering editorial page column by Roger Cohen, describing the "rah-rah Lone Star State show."
It was, as far as I know, by far the largest crowd that Donald Trump has ever addressed in his life:
YouTube screen grab.
Fox News offered live coverage of President Trump's remarks, and a little bit of P.M. Modi's address to the crowd, delivered in Hindi, but, when the network was unable to access a simultaneous translation into English, dropped the feed from Houston.
It was a hoot, and true celebration of diversity. Check out the dancers in both Indian costumes (eat your heart out, Justin Trudeau) and Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders–like costumes:
YouTube screen grabs.
But, in addition to the sheer cultural exuberance on display, there were very serious political points being scored by both Modi and Trump.
For Trump, the event was an opportunity for outreach to one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in the United States.
The population of Indian-origin people in America grew by 38 per cent in seven years between 2010 and 2017, a South Asian advocacy group has said in its latest demographic report.
In 2017, the population of Indian-Americans with multiple ethnicities was recorded as 4,402,363, up 38.3 per cent from 3,183,063 in 2010, the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) said in its snapshot.
There are at least 630,000 Indians who are undocumented, a 72 per cent increase since 2010. [number display corrected to American use of commas]
Indian-Americans are a natural constituency for Republicans, tending toward high levels of education, intact families, entrepreneurship, and culturally conservative values. Plenty of Democrat politicians attended the event, including Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston, but it was President Trump who enjoyed the embrace of P.M. Modi, who was very, very popular with the crowd.
The event was an implicit message to China that the United States and India are best buddies and will work together on security and economic issues. It was also a message to Iran that the United States is displacing it as an energy supplier to India. Prior to the rally, a major long-term contract was signed for supply of LNG gas to India, including an investment of $2.5 billion in a new LNG terminal by India's Petronet.
For his part, Modi reaped considerable political benefit from the event televised live in India (at midnight local time), affirming his importance on the world stage. Modi used the occasion to boast of his moves to make Kashmir a part of India like any other state, rejecting the former status.
If you missed it on television, take a quick look at a couple of the videos embedded below.
Here is VOA's excerpts of President Trump's address:
And here is the full event, almost four hours long: