Thursday, November 20, 2008
UPDATE: Being fairly new at blogging, it turns out that I have not mastered the art of taking negative comments in stride. It also turns out that when I unintentionally offend someone, I feel pretty guilty about it. I'm leaving this post up, but I wish to point out that it's not a statement of opinion, it's me summarizing something I read from a mainstream source. I further wish to point out that I am a guy who draws cartoons. I'm not a pundit with a specialty in contemporary Russian politics. That is all.
In keeping with the Bond theme: my wife looked up from her Vanity Fair the other day and said, "Did you know that Vladimir Putin rides around in a car with '007' on the license plate?" I said, "Doesn't he know that he's the guy who ends up shot at the end of the James Bond film?" After reading the article ("Dead Soul", October 2008, sorry can't find a link), I can believe both: that he's vain enough to fancy himself a dashing secret agent (as a child he already dreamt of joining the KGB), and is unreflective enough not to see the irony.
Putin was created as a Presidential candidate in 1999 by Yeltsin's embattled inner circle, who saw him as their ideal creature: a small bland bureaucrat, inoffensive enough to be sold to the public, with no accomplishments of his own, lacking the will or imagination to do anything but what they told him. They may have been right about him being undistinguished and small-minded. They soon found out how drastically wrong they were about everything else. Many of the very people who supported him for President-- and almost everyone who knew him and could tell much of anything about him--are now either working close to him, or dead, or living in exile. To this day he remains something of a blank slate. Nonetheless, the VF piece presents a fascinating picture of an accidental tyrant.