From Masha Lipman on PostGlobal:
As the two presidents meet at Kennebunkport, Bush is on a sharp decline, having completely failed to achieve what he proclaimed as his foreign policy mission. He has also largely squandered America’s moral authority as a pillar of democracy and freedom in the world. Putin, on the other hand, seems to have overachieved in his domestic agenda. He has full control over politics and increasingly over public life, he’s universally recognized as the ultimate arbiter of inner disputes and the uncontested decision-maker. The Russian nation has never lived as well as in Putin’s tenure, and his popularity rating at the end of his second term is about 80 percent. He did so by scrapping whatever fledgling democracy was emerging under president Yeltsin and pushing Russia back on its habitual track of the omnipotent state and the impotent society. He’s brought back the style of governance and some of the police state practices of the stagnation period of the 1970’s. His project for Russia is traditionally paternalistic and largely anti-modernization. But for the time being, the Russian people don’t seem to mind. Putin has been lucky with public attitudes, just as he has been with energy prices and, not least, with a disastrous U.S. foreign policy and the ensuing discord among Western nations. Within his country today he can get away with practically any policy move. The tougher he rejects U.S. foreign policy initiatives and criticism of Russia’s democratic record, the more popular he becomes.
There is also an interesting comment on this story that I would like to re-post:
Bill Mosby: After working in Russia for a total of 6 months spread over 04 and 05, and meeting educated, hard working Russians at the government-owned uranium enrichment plants in which I worked, it became apparent to me that the Russian people have what it takes to “eat our lunch” economically if only their government would just stay out of their way for a couple of decades. Luckily for us, this is not likely to happen. I think I am correct in saying it has never happened before for that length of time. July 3, 2007 1:41 PM | Report Offensive Comments