It's hard to feel sorry for a man as bloodless, cunning and short as Russian President Vladimir Putin. But put yourself in his shoes. Last weekend, the sober Russian leader was cornered into spending a 48-hour pow-wow with recovering cokefiend George W. Bush in some hokey mid-Atlantic campsite called Camp David. But this wasn't the Bush Putin had known before, the dim, confident, vaguely chummy president whose success and power kept growing, no matter how badly his policies worked. Indeed it made rational people start to wonder if they were the crazy ones, if reality had started to invert.
And then last week, the impervious Bush edifice suddenly crashed before everyone's eyes. No, it's not you who's nuts. Not Putin, not Chirac, not Schroeder. It's Bush's America, what we call "W Nation," that has gone truly crazy.
The elements for Bush's invulnerability crash -- a dead economy, a disastrous occupation, world isolation and egregious corruption -- have been brewing for months. But somehow the embarrassing show at the UN last week brought it all out in the open. Even gullible Americans couldn't hide their shame. In the span of a few days, Bush managed to rack up more diplomatic denials than Flounder has rejections at the feis kontroli of Moscow's top clubs. It wasn't just security council members dissing Bush; even dimestore states like Pakistan and Chile took their turn.
Putin got the equivalent of a slumber party invite at Camp David last weekend, the most privileged invite that Georgie offers his friends, but Putin could hardly have been pleased. Bush's response to the crack-up of his regime has been to pretend that it isn't happening. Which would only make spending 48 hours with him that much more painful.
The good news, for some of you, is that Putin made it back alive. We can all breathe a sigh of relief and go back to drinking our aromatic teas and our yoga classes. Meanwhile, in honor of Putin's safe return, and for U, the reader's edification, welcome to our eXile Kwik Guide to W Nation: America Gone Mad!
Exhibit A: Wall Street Jibberish
The Wall Street Journal didn't use to allow itself to cross over into sheer insanity. Stuffy, dull, smug, shamelessly pro-business, yes--but also oddly self-serious about its intellectual credibility in a way few liberal newspapers are. Well, sometime in the last couple of years, the WSJ's editors decided to join the party over on the violent wing of the asylum. And when they did, they jumped into the madness with both spitshined feet. Take this recent WSJ editorial, titled "A Message for Mr. Putin":
A one-time partner of America has become estranged. The country has a troubled economy with an overweening state, its government is increasingly autocratic and its intellectual class is now dominated by think-alikes who rarely challenge officialdom. It is ruled by a President who brooks no dissent and enjoys popularity in direct proportion to his outspokenness against America.
We are talking about France. But one day soon this could easily be Russia -- with far more serious consequences for U.S. interests in the world. President Bush welcomes Russian President Vladimir Putin to Washington today, and we hope he's thinking about the Russo-American "special relationship" more broadly than his warm personal ties or fresh help on Iraq.
Look at that first paragraph again. You're supposed to guess which country is the unnamed "one-time partner," based on clues like an increasingly autocratic government, troubled economy, anti-dissent President and "think-alike" intellectual class.
Jeez, we could name that song in one note! It's the US, right? It's a perfect fit. Take the "troubled economy"; well Hell, the whole place has virtually shut down in the past three years. And of course, "increasingly autocratic government" is an obvious allusion to that loony Ashcroft and the whole Patriot Act Gulag. But the real giveaway was the part about an "intellectual class...dominated by think-alikes who rarely challenge officialdom." That settles it: the only country in the developed world this applies to is America. The American press and "intellectual class" are rightly scorned throughout the world as the most servile, gullible and easily-manipulated in modern times.