"Putin On A Good Act"
by The Cranky Media Guy
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
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
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