Vladimir Putin - Russia's Everything Man
The Many Images of the Leader
Setting most politics aside, Vladimir Putin, Russia's eternal president, works fairly hard to keep a positive image of himself in the minds of his countrymen. The imagine his handlers want to portray is a rugged individualist who is also sensitive and culturally aware -- a kind of 21st Century Renaissance Man.
Photos of him performing judo, fishing bare-chested, checking the condition of polar bears and tigers all seem to convey that Putin is no couch potato. To the contrary, he is a tough guy -- someone tough enough to stand up to the West or even a wild animal (if need be)... a kind of Russian version of Indiana Jones but with more deplomb.
The Russians themselves have started to see the transparency of these images and are quietly snickering at them. Putin looks like the type of guy that the GOP would love to recruit to run against Obama -- someone rugged, confident, smart but not really intellectual, and, of course Lilly white. Someone who would like to see the powers of the government reduced to a small cabal. Someone who isn't afraid of making his adversaries disappear.
The hitch, of course, is that he's an ex-KGB operative who also recently became reelected to the presidency for a third term. He was a fairly low-level agent at the KGB, so he must feel a lot of inner satisfaction at being the king-pin and handing out orders to others to carry out.
By appearance he seems bland and unassuming, but on the inside he doesn't seem to forget slights done to him.
We can chuckle at all this, but we had our own cowboy in the White House for two terms.
People -- whether from Russia or the US love a winner, even if some of his trophies are tarnished.
Here's a small collection of Putin in many guises. Which one represents the real Putin, if any?