The Bush-Putin Soulmate Watch
With the July G8 summit approaching in St. Petersburg, President Bush is facing some uncomfortable questions about his close friend and budding Russian autocrat, Vladimir Putin. Speaking to Freedom House this week, Bush brushed aside suggestions that he boycott the summit, saying the two have a "personal relationship such that there is the possibility for candid conversation" and that "I'm able to walk into the room with the President of Russia and him not throw me out."
That personal relationship was apparently forged in late 2001, when President Bush said of his first meeting with Putin, "I looked the man in the eye. I was able to get a sense of his soul. I knew that President Putin was a man with whom I could work." Four and a half years later, President Bush this week declared:
"I have worked very hard to convince Vladimir Putin that it's in his interest to adopt Western-style values and universal values -- rule of law, freedom of religion, the right to people to assemble, political parties, free press."
Unfortunately for the American and Russian people alike, George W. Bush may not be the best role model for Vladimir Putin. As Bush himself put it:
"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it." (President George W. Bush, July 26, 2001.)
"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator." (President-elect George W. Bush, December 18, 2000.)
"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier." (Texas Governor George W. Bush, July 1998.)
Bush, of course, was joking. But as I've noted previously, the humor of George W. Bush provides a rare window into the dark soul of a man who apparently views his fellow citizens - and the world - with disdain and contempt.
Indeed, far from throwing him out, Vladimir Putin will welcome President Bush with open arms.