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weasel of the week
"Putin On A Good Act"
by The Cranky Media Guy
Vladimir 'I'd Rather Be Fishing' Putin
Vladimir Putin 

Welcome to democracy, Vladimir Putin!  As a citizen of a country that has been pretending to be a democracy for some time now, let me be the first to say, "Howdy!"

Mind if I give you a little piece of advice, Vlad?  (OK for me to call you Vlad, Vlad?)  If you're gonna have American-style democracy over there in Russkie-land, you're gonna have to be an American-style politician.  Rule Number One: act like you care deeply about things, even when you don't, even when "caring" wouldn't make the slightest bit of difference to the situation.

What am I driving at?  Well, you had that submarine go down the other day.  You were on vacation at the time.  Now, I'm sure the vacation was well-deserved and you probably had it planned for a long time and you couldn't possibly have known that the sub was gonna go glub-glub.  Your people are pretty P.O.'d at you right now, though.  You didn't dump the sand out of your shoes and come running back to Mother Russia as soon as you got the bad news.

You get CNN at the Kremlin, yes?  Well, then, you've probably seen what happens when Montana or one of those other rectangular states on the left side of our map floods out.  President Clinton jumps into HMX-1 ("Helicopter Marine (e)Xperimental One"), flies over the affected area, looks out the window and makes appropriate clucking noises.  This, of course, is window dressing; the president could just take the governor's word for the fact that the place is a disaster area and sign the papers to free up the bucks.

Would anything change if the president stayed in the Oval Office and just authorized the disaster relief money from there?  Not really, but we expect our elected officials to "care".  In reality, they don't really care about much other than hanging onto their gigs, but they know enough to go through the motions for the folks out there in TV Land.  That's how this little game works, Vlad: politicians pretend to care and we suspend disbelief and act like we think they really do.  Woe to the pol who doesn't go through the motions.  He will be labeled "uncaring" and "unfeeling" and will lose his next election in a landslide.

Now do you understand why every Nikita and Irina in your country is calling for your head, Vlad?  The second you heard the sub was sitting on the floor of Davy Jones' Locker Room, you should have had them warm up the chopper so you could swing by the site of the sinking.  You wouldn't have seen a damn thing worth seeing, of course, but the footage of you clucking in Cyrillic would have been on the Evening News with Danski Rathervitch for everyone to see.  That would have warmed hearts from Minsk to Vladivostok and you wouldn't have all those lumpy-looking, potato-headed women in babushkas shaking their doughy fists and saying you don't care.

I know the idea that appearance means more than action in an democratic system might come as a surprise to you, Vlad, but it does.  To ease into this new way of thinking, practice repeating this phrase until you can say it on TV (in Russian, of course) with a straight face: "I feel your pain.  I feel your pain."





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