Bush, Putin Supporters Push for Third Terms
With each passing day, the similarities between George W. Bush and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin grow more striking. Early on in his presidency, Bush "looked the man in the eye" and "was able to get a sense of his soul." He found that the former KGB chief shares Bush's professed fondness for dictatorship and preference for a compliant media that can help him "catapult the propaganda." And now, both Bush and Putin have supporters pushing for third terms for their respective presidents.
As the Washington Post detailed on Wednesday, the Kremlin is helping orchestrate a campaign to change the Russian constitution to enable a third consecutive term for President Putin:
The demonstrations are being organized by United Russia, the party Putin has said he will lead in parliamentary elections in December, according to political analysts and documents published by the Communist Party. United Russia denies it is the organizer.
People have rallied in eight Russian cities, most recently Saturday in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk. There, local police said 30,000 crowded the central square under the banners of a new organization called For Putin.
Opposition activists, calling the police estimate grossly inflated, said that fewer than 10,000 people showed up, most of them compelled to attend by local authorities. More rallies are planned in other cities in the coming weeks, according to members of the For Putin movement.
With opinion polls showing Putin's personal approval rating approaching 80% and his party nearing 70%, United Russia has a very real chance of winning the two-thirds majority of the Russian parliament needed to amend the constitution and its two-term limit. Despite assurances by a Putin spokesman that the Russian president "will quit," Putin appears to be taking no chances. Published telegrams show that state employees, factory workers, teachers, students and pensioners were compelled to attend the demonstrations. A newspaper ad recently featured a letter from four famous artists claiming that the nation's 65,000 artists to the "respected Vladimir Vladimirovich" which said "we would like to appeal to you and plead with you to stay in power for the next term."
President Bush and Putin may part company on missile defense and Bush, of course, is not nearly as popular as his Russian soul mate. But at least some of Bush's sycophantic supporters are just as determined to see him claim the mantle of President for Life.
That apparently is the most fervent wish of Philip Atkinson of the reactionary conservative organization Family Security Matters. (Ironically, FSM just published its list of the Top 10 Most Dangerous Organizations in America.) In a shocking August 2007 screed since deleted from the FSM web site, Atkinson in a piece titled "Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy" called for Bush to use nuclear weapons in Iraq and then proclaim himself President for Life:
If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestige while terrifying American enemies.
He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.
President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming ex-president Bush or he can become President-for-Life Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.
Vladimir Putin's designs on perpetual power, of course, have a much better chance of coming to fruition in Russia. Outside of Fred Barnes, the vast majority of Americans, even Republicans, do not want to see the U.S. Constitution amended to allow presidents a third term. And even George W. Bush, who on at least three occasions declared "a dictatorship would be a lot easier," denies any interest in four more years. Just two weeks ago, he thanked a questioner at a VFW event for suggesting it, joking:
"Well, I can't. It's time for new blood. Plus, I'd be single."