Friday, December 9, 2022

What Can Narendra Modi Learn from George H.W. Bush

Netanyahu and Modi

Tel Aviv 2017

In his article, “Trends Are Bad, Events Are Worse, But ‘Trevents’ May Surprise Us” (Bloomberg; October 2, 2022), Niall Ferguson writes:

“Remember the fate of George H.W. Bush, who finished the Cold War with spectacular success, only to fail in his bid for re-election in 1992.

"Bush was in many ways the maestro president when it came to foreign policy. With extraordinary dexterity, he handled the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of all the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, German reunification and then the Soviet disintegration. On his watch, Nelson Mandela was set free and apartheid consigned to the history books; and Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait was reversed.

“And yet still the presidency was won by a scandal-prone Southern governor with the banal but brilliant slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid.””

Ferguson is making a good point. The foreign policy of George H.W. Bush was spectacularly successful (from a Western conservative point of view)—despite that he lost the election to a man who is probably America’s most crooked and immoral politician: Bill Clinton. 

I think Narendra Modi should pay heed to the fate of George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

Like Bush, Modi is an arch-conservative. Like Bush, his political program is focused on cultural issues and foreign policy. Despite doing reasonably well (not spectacularly well) in the areas of culture and foreign policy, Modi could lose the election in 2024, if the country’s economic woes continue to exacerbate. 

The slogan—“It’s the economy, stupid”—might play on the mind of the Indian voters and lead them to vote against Modi.

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