Vladimir Putin: A Cautionary Tale


Consider for a moment the flack President Obama gets just for being Obama. Somewhere in this country, the question of whether he’s an American citizen is still on the table. Somewhere, people are saying he’s a socialist who wants to overturn the free market. Some say he’s not doing enough to fix our fallen economy.

And then there’s this guy:

That’s Russian President Evil Emperor Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. You won’t find the Russian press writing very critical things about him. Who is Russia’s Rush Limbaugh? I doubt they have one. Maybe Russia’s ranking as country 153 out of 175 on Reporters Without Borders’ 2009 Press Freedom Index (less press freedom than Afghanistan, but still topping Libya!) explains the loyalty, with its largely government-run media. Or maybe it’s just his mesmerizing pecs. But it seems Vladimir Putin, risen through the Russian ranks from KGB official to president to prime minister, can pretty much do whatever he wants and still generally receive praise.

This week, Putin joined the effort to help put out Russia’s wildfires by co-piloting a fire-extinguishing plane.

Impressive, right? Obama can’t take a walk without someone on a cable news show devoting an hour to criticizing his gait, but Putin goes on shirtless fishing trips and plays real-life Flight Simulator and he’s a hero. Our journalists don’t always have it right, but at least we’re allowed to nit-pick the president.

In contrast, here’s Putin mauling a man:

OK, not really. Putin actually has a black belt in judo, so this kind of manhandling is commonplace for him and for newspaper readers’ eyes. He even took his discipline a step further in 2008, releasing his own set of instructional DVD’s called “Learn Judo With Me, Vladimir Putin.” When you see photos like this, you’re supposed to think “this guy is a badass, don’t mess with him.” It seems that point is intended for the whole world to see.

Even the disenfranchised youth loves him. Here he is praising the benefits of “street rap” and its related activities (with subtitles):

He even dressed for the part, that sassy man.

Wait, I think we need to see more of those pecs. Perhaps we can find an image of him hunting shirtless with a giant rifle?

Here he is saving a TV crew from a Siberian tiger:

Putin’s talents are just limitless! Kind of like another beloved world leader, North Korea’s Kim Jong-il, who it has been claimed can predict the weather, has written several operas and is a golf expert to the tune of several holes-in-one per game. I can’t source this information, because I don’t think anyone on earth can actually prove it. But if it says so in his official biography, it has to be true, right? Right?

It seems wherever Putin is saving a village or taming wild animals, a camera crew is there. Coincidence, surely.

Now imagine if Obama pulled half these stunts.

Now imagine if he did them shirtless.

The U.S.’s Press Freedom Index Rank from 2009 was 22 out of 175.

Now imagine all if it equaled Russia’s.

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