Sunday, November 25, 2007

Putin"s Poster Boy Poses

Vladimir Putin has positioned himself as Russia's virile,energetic, and health conscious poster boy. After a series of antiquated Russian leaders who were visibly suffering from some sort of terminal illness (Brehznev), weighted down by problems that spun out of control (Gorbachev), or an obviously terminal man made worse by alcoholism (Yeltsin); Putin comes like a breath of fresh air.

At age 54, it has been quite a while since Russia had a youthful leader. He succeeded men who were well over their 70s; thus, Russia's image was always that of old obstinate grumpy men incapable of new ideas resulting in the extended period of the cold war.

Putin's poster boy photos circulating in the Russian press projects the new Russia: getting stronger and more stable, and growing economically. It provides character and energizes the people to achieve more for the country.

However, there is another side to this image. It sends the message that there is no fooling around under his watch. No tolerance for dissent. And the message to the west is "don't mess around with this Russia; I'm no weakling and I'm not a drunken buffoon." As far as Russians are concerned, the image brings a likeable leader that would entice them to tolerate abuses, murder the interfering journalists, and suspend the law. To dissenters, it says "don't talk to me about western style democracy, you can shove it up your butt; or I'll gladly do it for you".

The west, specifically the US, have no match for this strong image projection. Even if you photoshopped Arnold Schawrzenegger's body and added George Bush's head, it won't be the same. Bush's pea brain will still be visible, he's salivating mouth would betray his lust for plundering the middle east more than Atilla the Hun, and his unconvincing facial expression similar to that of Mr. Bean would elicit guffaws from all around the world.

For sure, it would be tacky for Hillary to go around topless if she becomes president; and Obama's small emaciated frame would be better as a poster for starvation in Africa.

The posturing by Putin and the response from the west towards his governance could leave us with no choice but to reach for our thick blankets and light up our fireplaces... these egotists are moving towards another cold war. The only thing that could warm it up is for all of them to go to hell!



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