Skimming this morning's Wall Street Journal, I happened on the story where India's Manmohan Singh is predicting 10 percent growth rates for India in coming years.
Yes, yes, I know, a prediction is not a fact, and any clown can forecast 10 percent growth and lots do. Still I wondered: is it possible that Manmohan Singh is the most competent all-round leader of a major country at work today?
Singh, who got his start as an almost accidental prime minister, has a record after all, and on the whole I'd say a pretty good one. Nobody's perfect and every politician is a captive of his time and place, but can you think of anyone else who has stayed successfully focused on getting it right as long as Singh?
I mean, nobody--except maybe a bunch of Norwegians--would give Obama the competence prize just yet, not even if he wins health care: just too soon to say. Japan's Yukio Hatoyama is a total newby and probably shouldn't even count as a ontender. I suppose you could make a case that China's Hu Jintao is awfully good at what he does, but there are surely are major questions as to whether he should be doing it ("effective liquidation of minority populations" is not exactly a recommendation). Angela Merkel might win some sort of popularity contest, but as many have noted, she seems to being it off by not standing for much. Nikolas Sarkozy probably qualifies for the "not nearly as bad as we would have expected" award?
Brazil's Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva--now, there's a thought. Like Sarkozy, he might be a candidate in the "not as bad as we expected" tables. And again, there will be a lot of disputes over whether he is doing what he should be doing. But he's an interesting proposition.
Other than that, I can't think of anyone ini the running. Sylvo Berlusco-gimme-a-break. Benjamin Neteny-oi-vey-iz-mir. So, Singh it has to be.