I’m terrified of Vladimir Putin. Most of the world is. He reminds me of a cross between Yul Brynner in WESTWORLD and the bald Nazi mechanic in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. So I’m a little perplexed at his recent PR campaign to project a more macho image.

I remember when Al Gore tried that during the 2000 elections. There was a purposeful effort to have him seen hiking and boating and generally looking like a model in LL Bean’s fall catalogue. Putin, by contrast, is making every effort to look like something out of THE TURNER DIARIES. Then again in Russia this sort of imagery is considered sexy I guess. It’s also politically saavy:

“With speculation growing that he may run for president again in 2012, analysts say such photo opportunities keep him firmly in the public eye and remind people that he remains a serious contender for the country’s highest political office.

The photographs show him posing with a large fish he has apparently just caught in a nearby river, nuzzling a horse in the style of a horse whisperer, and shouldering a hunting rifle with telescopic sights as he strides through a rock-strewn landscape.

But crucially he is not shown actually shooting anything. He has been careful to cultivate an image as a keen animal conservationist who does his best to protect Russia’s endangered species. The rifle therefore appears to be more of a fashion accessory rather than something he either needed or used.” – Telegraph

Ah. Good. He wanders around forest shirtless with rifle. But, he kills nothing. Why yes. I like this man. He is semi-nude, armed yet merciful. I would drink with him. I will vote for him.

George Bush (not that one, the other one) was the biggest macho idiot the world has ever seen. Yet I could only imagine the uproar if he were photographed waving a rifle around Burt Reynolds style. And the less we think about Obama going Rambo with a Remington the better.

Putin runs Russia whether he’s in office or not. Even having to hold office at all is a formality for him. Forbes magazine just rated him the 4th most powerful man in the world. Interestingly, Barack Obama was 2nd only to Hu Jintao, the President of China. Why? According to The Washington Post:

“The 67-year-old is “paramount political leader of more people than anyone else on the planet; exercises near dictatorial control over 1.3 billion people, one-fifth of world’s population,” Forbes said. “Unlike Western counterparts, Hu can divert rivers, build cities, jail dissidents and censor Internet without meddling from pesky bureaucrats, courts.”

Now that’s pretty hardcore. And he didn’t even have to take his shirt off.



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