Damp squib or good fortune?

Damp squib or good fortune?

You’ve heard of raining on a politician’s parade. Well, in Shanghai this week it was a case of raining on Hillary’s tent – and an unfinished one at that. Secretary of State Clinton was at the city’s Expo site, visiting America’s 6,000 square metre pavilion. Speaking in the downpour, Clinton relied on the old Kevin Costner insight: if you build it, they will come. Or rather, donate.

Embarassingly for the US government, the nation’s Expo tent – budgeted at $61 million – is still $20 million short. So during her speech, Clinton praised Boeing for doubling its donation to $2 million, and called on the audience of US corporate executives to “join this effort”. If you were looking for a caricature of an enfeebled superpower this was it.

Shanghai’s vice-mayor Yang Xiong was on hand to reassure the audience that the day’s torrent was not a bad omen. Don’t worry about the deluge, Yang announced. Chinese tradition declares it “rain of good fortune”.

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