Bottling that Putin magic

It’s time to halt the false, uncertain tone of the current analyses of Russian politics. Repeat after me: Vladimir Putin is running for, and will win, the 2012 race for president. That’s what happens after you tranquilize a Siberian Tiger; help put out a hellish fire; ride along with Russian Hell’s Angels under the moniker ...

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It's time to halt the false, uncertain tone of the current analyses of Russian politics. Repeat after me: Vladimir Putin is running for, and will win, the 2012 race for president. That's what happens after you tranquilize a Siberian Tiger; help put out a hellish fire; ride along with Russian Hell's Angels under the moniker "Abbadona"; fire a crossbow at a gray whale; and slam judo opponents half your age on the mat, then suggest you will join the next Russian judo Olympics team. Body slamming, it turns out, gives one a reputation for control and power, attributes that play exceedingly well in Russia.

It’s time to halt the false, uncertain tone of the current analyses of Russian politics. Repeat after me: Vladimir Putin is running for, and will win, the 2012 race for president. That’s what happens after you tranquilize a Siberian Tiger; help put out a hellish fire; ride along with Russian Hell’s Angels under the moniker “Abbadona”; fire a crossbow at a gray whale; and slam judo opponents half your age on the mat, then suggest you will join the next Russian judo Olympics team. Body slamming, it turns out, gives one a reputation for control and power, attributes that play exceedingly well in Russia.

Not so much in the United States, where such attempts can go very wrong. Michael Dukakis learned that when, as the Democratic presidential nominee, he was famously ridiculed after rolling around in a tank; John Kerry won almost no positive return after proving exceptionally proficient at hunting and skeet shooting during his own year as a Democratic presidential nominee. And of course, George W. Bush has yet to live down his 2003 “Mission Accomplished” landing on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.

Is it possible to translate the Putin magic to America? After all, if you pay attention to the polls, you are probably aware that President Barack Obama is in political trouble at the moment. For an answer, I shot emails around to select O&G readers with one question: How could Obama acquire a Putin-like image?

After the jump, the top 10 responses:

1.       Drive a GM Volt on a cross-country “I’m mad as hell” political barnstorming campaign.

2.       Body slam John Boehner.

3.       Release a rap single.

4.       Body slam Terry Jones, everyone’s favorite Quran-burning preacher.

5.       Pitch Hawaii for the next Winter Olympics.

6.       Body slam Hamid Karzai.

7.       Hatchet in hand, wearing dark glasses, put out a burning apartment house fire; hang bare-chested from a helicopter, pull victims from the waters of a flood.

8.       Body slam Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

9.       Encourage Rahm Emanuel to run for Chicago mayor, and replace him with Putin.

10.     Suggest swapping jobs with Joe Biden. Pause for effect. Then say, “Just kidding.”

<p> Steve LeVine is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy, a Schwartz Fellow at the New America Foundation, and author of The Oil and the Glory. </p>

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