I just spent an entertaining few minutes perusing the amateur photography gallery of President Dmitry Medvedev (the Moscow Times is running a story on this one). So far I think Medvedev’s photos are much better than Vladimir Putin’s foray into oil painting, though it’s hard to imagine one of the photographs nabbing a similar £750,000 auction price.
What I am struck with though is this constant exaltation of both Putin and Medvedev as “the great man,” which sometimes even reminds me of the kind of moves pulled by Kim Jung Il of North Korea (who once even spread the rumor that he was the best golfer in the world on the very first time he tried the game – five hole-in-ones). The myth factories are pumping out stories in overtime, with Putin going to the bottom of Lake Baikal in a submarine one minute, Medvedev pumping out video blogs the next, and then of course the endless macho photo opportunities. These are not merely political leaders, we are meant to believe, but godly embodiments of perfection, with the skills, grace, and intelligence to accomplish virtually anything they set their minds to. It’s not enough that they run the country, but their people also must be impressed with their extra-curricular talents.
Photos, paintings, judo, blogging, and tiger hunting are all swell pursuits, but it would just be such a nice relief if either of these guys could just show off their skills through accomplishments in office.