Behind The Scenes Of A Modern Dictator
Hmm, Newsweek has an interesting expose by Ben Judah
The President wakes late and eats shortly after noon. He begins with the simplest of breakfasts. There is always cottage cheese. His cooked portion is always substantial; omelette or occasionally porridge. He likes quails’ eggs. He drinks fruit juice. The food is forever fresh: baskets of his favourites dispatched regularly from the farmland estates of the Patriarch Kirill, Russia’s religious leader.
He is then served coffee. His courtiers have been summoned but these first two hours are taken up with swimming. The President enjoys this solitary time in the water. He wears goggles and throws himself into a vigorous front crawl. This is where the political assistants suggest he gets much of Russia’s thinking done.
The courtiers joke and idle and cross their legs in the lacquered wood waiting rooms. He rarely comes to them quickly. They say three, perhaps four hours is the normal wait for a minister. He likes to spend some time in the gym where Russian rolling news is switched on. There he enjoys the weights much more than the exercise bikes.
OK, obviously this is not about Obama, but Vladimir Putin. But, let’s face it: tweak the article a little bit and you’re talking about Obama. Waking late? Yup. Look at any Obama daily schedule and you’ll see that he gets his daily briefing at 10am virtually every day. Most presidents in the past have been workaholics, and would receive that briefing no later than 9am. Then it’s one or two things on his official schedule, often followed by fundraising.
Mostly, these meetings are meaningless. There are those who come to pay homage to him: receiving the crown Prince of Bahrain, awarding bronze medals to Udmurt Heroes of Labour, or reviewing promotions in the management of the federal space industry.
Most meetings for Obama are about paying homage to Obama. When he’s giving out the Medal Of Honor, you hear Obama speak quite a bit about “I”.
He does not live in Moscow. He dislikes the place: the traffic, the pollution, the human congestion. The President has chosen the palace at Novo-Ogaryovo as his residence. Home is out there, to the west of the city, away from the red walls, the mega-estates, the mega-malls — out in his parkland.
He lives in Washington, D.C., but spends as much time as he can being a “bear on the loose”, hitting the golf course, flying off to fundraisers (mostly in deep Liberal Land), going on vacations (which cost the taxpayers millions of dollars).
He dislikes coming to the Kremlin. He prefers working on his estate. He has cut down his meetings in Moscow since 2012 to a strict minimum: to meeting dignitaries that need to be impressed, or the formal gatherings that require those extravagant halls, with crystal-cut cut chandeliers and the mirrors as high as birch trees.
He dislikes meeting with Congress, including his own Party members. He has celebrities and hard-core political appointees over to the White House quite a bit, though.
The President keeps busy, even on Saturday and Sunday. At weekends, his schedule becomes more haphazard: but there are sometimes study sessions in the afternoon. Mostly, English language. His teacher helps him learn difficult words — singing songs together. There are times on Sundays he is said to pray or make a confession. But courtiers familiar with the office of the Patriarch are at pains to clarify — though not an atheist, perhaps a believer — his life is not that of a Christian.
Well, at least one President works on the weekend.
“He looks emotionless, as if nothing really touches him,” the interpreter remembers. “As if he is hardly aware of what happens around him. As if he is paying little attention to these people. As if he is worn out… He has spent so long as an icon he is not used to anyone penetrating… He is not used to anything not being so perfectly controlled for him. He is isolated, trapped.”
Vlad should try hitting the road for some fundraisers, perhaps find some fellow citizens to demonize and denigrate. That always works to energize Obama, and seems to be the only time Obama shows emotion. A plane is shot down in the Ukraine? Computer’s saying “we care about your business, please hold, we’ll be right with you” have more emotion.
At the end of the day, Obama is not a dictator. It seems he would like to be, but, hey, that would require hard work beyond fundraisers and campaigning. He has the makings of a tyrant-lite. He certainly seems to have the feeling that he is a king, because some Kings often do little work other than telling Other People to do this and do that. And we have a bit over two years of Obama to deal with.
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