At first I thought this interview with Vladimir Putin was a hoax:
“Of course, I am a pure and absolute democrat. But you know what the problem is – not a problem, a real tragedy – that I am alone. There are no such pure democrats in the world. Since Mahatma Gandhi, there has been no one.”Putin's comments came during a bizarre evening of amateurish government spin:
The Kremlin press squad declared that everyone should prepare for a surprise dinner that the President would host to show his friendliness – and by the way, his remarks would be under embargo and not publishable until Monday.Putin told the gathering of world press that he had no plans for retirement and was planning to extend the legal term for Russian Presidents. Hey kids! Can you say: "delusional megalomania"?
It is not often, these days, that media management is so poor that it warrants comment, but the Kremlin, having gone to such lengths to stage the audience with the President, then threw away, in that reflex of control, the pages of newsprint cleared by editors in seven countries to receive his words. The man from Nikkei let out a long exhalation of disbelief; the Globe and Mail slumped into a leatherette swivel chair to break the news to Toronto; Le Figaro fixedly studied a crystallised fruit pinched between thumb and forefinger.
What is it with world leaders these days? We've had two terms of Bush, ten years of Blair and a lifetime of bloody Howard. Now Bush and Cheney are drafting emergency powers that could be used to cancel the next election, Blair is dragging out his swansong global tour in an orgy of self-love, and Howard The Has-been is still stubbornly refusing to put on his little lawn bowl hat and head down to the RSL - why can't these guys give it up and go get a real life?