Day of triple tryst with history (Washington Diary)

Washington, June 12 (IANS) History was made thrice in one day last week. Hillary Clinton broke the glass ceiling. Donald Trump completed his hostile takeover of the Republican Party. And Narendra Modi came full circle with an address to the US Congress.

Clinton’s tryst with history as the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major party has been 16 years in the making — bit by bit. Since she and husband Bill Clinton left the White House in 2001, the former first lady has been planning a return, but with roles reversed.

First, a black man with a Kenyan father and an American mother thwarted her plan to get the Democratic nomination in 2008 with his message of hope and change though she did manage to put ’18 million cracks in the glass ceiling’ then.

And this time around, a fiery old man called Bernie Sanders singed her aura of inevitability as millions of millennials feeling the ‘Bern’ flocked to the Democratic Socialist in greater numbers than they did to Barack Obama in 2008.

Obama, now President, was quick to put his seal of approval on the woman who served him for four years as secretary of state even as the White House promised to keep its hands off the FBI investigation into her growing email scandal.

But Bernie fans gave a yawn while another unlikely Pied Piper of a different hue named Donald Trump, whose supporters match their passion for Sanders, offered to welcome with open arms those who loathe to support “Crooked Hillary.”

Trump was also quick to jump on the latest revelations from her emails that Rajiv Fernando, a major ‘desi’ donor of the Clinton campaign and a big benefactor of the Clinton Foundation, was appointed to a group which oversees US nuclear and security policies, in 2011.

The Chicago securiies trader suddenly resigned from the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) when ABC News raised questions about his credentials.

Meanwhile, even as many big wigs in his own Republican party upbraided the mogul over his “racist” remarks questioning the fairness of a US-born judge hearing a case against Trump University because of his “Mexican heritage”, he scored another “yuge” win, as trump says, in the primaries.

From party boss Reince Priebus to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, they all repudiated his comments about the judge and some lawmakers even reversed their Trump endorsement. The 2008 Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who led a failed campaign to stop Trump, said he saw no reason to change his mind.

However, his running mate Paul Ryan, now House speaker, who had endorsed Trump after much hemming and hawing, called his comments text-book racist but said Clinton was not the answer as he vowed to still back the mogul their differences notwithstanding.

Topping the 1,237 magic number needed to win the Republican nomination by over 300 delegates with the backing of a record 13.3 million angry ordinary folks, the ever unapologetic brash billionaire simply asked the establishment critics to man up.

And, as Clinton and Trump celebrated their overnight wins in the last primaries, calling each other unfit to be president, Modi, once barred from entering the US under a little known law passed by the US Congress, headed to Capitol Hill to address that very august body.

Amid seven standing ovations and 60-plus applauses, Modi, now Prime Minister, dressed in his trademark white kurta pyjama and grey Nehru jacket with an Indian tricolour hankie in his pocket struck all the right notes.

For his government “the constitution is the real holy book,” said Modi, giving “all the 1.25 billion of our citizens” regardless of background “freedom of faith, speech and franchise (right to vote)” .

Fresh from his third major summit with “friend Barack”, winning US recognition as a “major defence partner” giving India access to technology like its “closest allies and partners,” he noted how “our relationship has overcome the hesitations of history.”

If Atal Bihari Vajpayee had termed India and the US “natural allies,” Obama had “called our ties the defining partnership of the 21st century”, Modi recalled, urging a journey together to realise the full promise of “this extraordinary relationship.”

Concluding with American poet Walter “Walt” Whitman’s lines “The orchestra have sufficiently tuned their instruments. The baton has given the signal,” he added one of his own: “There is a new symphony in place”.

And as he took his bow with lawmakers milling around him and falling over each other seeking his autographs like excited schoolboys, there was only one question in the air: with whom would he play that symphony — Clinton or Trump?

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at



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