“How much does Obama know about this nation?” asked Shiv Sena’s Sanjay Raut. Ummm…errr…what’s the question again? We are talking about former US President Barack Obama here, not some illiterate, crooked, small-minded party flunky. Obama is one of the world’s most respected statesmen. Certainly, one of the smartest. And he doesn’t know about India? It is safe to state that Barack Obama knows more about India and Indian politicians than 90% of local politicians, who know very little about their own constituencies, forget global politics.
Sanjay Raut’s put down was a vain attempt to defend Rahul Gandhi, who clearly did not impress Obama all that much. In this year’s top-selling book, the author has dissed Rahul Baba, but not too scathingly. This is what he has written in ‘A Promised Land’: “He (Rahul) has a nervous, uninformed quality about him, as if he were a student who’d done the course work and was eager to impress the teacher but deep down lacked either the aptitude or the passion to master the subject.” Even Rahul Baba loyalists would find it hard to quarrel with that assessment. If anything, Obama has softened the blow considerably by not calling him a duffer.
Unfortunately, Obama’s words carry a lot of weight. People take him seriously, and if this is what he thinks of the Congress president, well then, his opinion will be seen as the last word on the subject — our very own Rahul Baba, prodded and pushed by all in his crumbling party. Not because they love him, not because they want to protect him, but because they want to save their own butts. As his devoted hangers-on, their sole job is to make sure nobody tells the boss the truth. In that sense, ‘A Promised Land’ has driven a cruel fact home — Mr Gandhi needs to go back to school.
That being said, ‘A Promised Land’ is likely to ruffle many more global feathers. Apparently, Shri Putin is far from being amused. Obama has hurt where it hurts the most — he has cut Putin down to size, literally. Apparently, Putin isn’t as impressively built as his publicity pictures suggest. Putin’s carefully constructed image has always relied heavily on his physicality. A bare-backed Putin riding a glorious, wild-maned stallion, was just one such picture. There he was engaging in hand-to-paw combat with a fierce Siberian tiger, and look — isn’t his chest massive? What about that black belt of his? My, my! A strongman who is genuinely an impressive beast of a man. Phut! There goes his reputation.
So why is Obama doing this? Because he is jealous? Naah! Obama has to sell more books. Between his wife Michelle and her book, and now, his tell-all tome, the Obamas have emerged as the political versions of the Kardashians — their lives are being lived in full public glare these days, and they aren’t complaining. Oh, no — they are busy raking it in! Between them they earned more than a whopping $65 million by way of advances for their respective books. They have plans to launch many more business ventures based entirely on their individual charisma and pulling power.
They are legit media celebrities today, working round the clock to feed the social media monster. We see them hugging, cuddling and kissing a great deal — just like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie used to. Like the canny Kardashians, the Obamas know the power of well calibrated publicity — how much to reveal, to whom and when. Why not? Both of them have a vast global following eager to hang on to every scrap thrown out there. Obama has long mastered the art of seducing the camera.
Michelle is not too far behind. I watched the documentary of her book tour, which had a camera team following her around as she went from one city to the next. It was shot like the best rock star concert videos — a hyper glamourised roadshow, with intimate, behind-the-scenes moments filmed. Michelle’s multiple costume, hair and make-up changes had her followers swooning. Ditto for Barack Obama. He is immensely photogenic and likeable, as he works the crowd and comes up with deadly one-liners, delivered deadpan style.
Why get so touchy about his throwaway remark on Rahul G? So what if he thought him no better than the ‘Pappu’ that critics call him? Does that change anything? For whom? We have called Rahul far worse names ourselves. Just because a former President of America saw through him, need not make people like Sanjay Raut put his foot into an even bigger mess. By giving so much importance to Barack Obama’s tiny paragraph, Raut has inadvertently attracted far more attention to the ‘insult’. Result? Obama’s ‘A Promised Land’ will sell more copies in India than it might have. No, wait, let me take that back — the book has been leaked online. Who could have possibly done something this wicked? Obvious, my dear Watson! Rahul Gandhi’s worst enemies, of course! You know who they are, na?
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.