Why does Vladimir Putin not only personally but historically remind me of Teddy Roosevelt?
Both men have very interesting, intimidating former lives: Putin was a KGB spy, and Roosevelt was, among an insane amount of other things, a Rough Rider, rancher and NYC police commissioner.
The blogosphere has already made one connection for me: apparently, both Vladimir Putin and Teddy Roosevelt are/were martial arts experts, or something. Which totally doesn’t surprise me about either of them: Putin has a black belt in judo and Roosevelt was skilled in ju-jitsu.
President Roosevelt knifed a cougar. Vladimir Putin saved a TV crew by shooting and sedating a charging tiger.
Politically, both men have been successful at manipulating the media and retained great popular favor while terrifying their enemies. Both men were accused of oppressing other, less powerful countries, and of pursuing imperialist policies. Both men left office eight years into the century, turning the reins over to a hand-picked successor who was accused of being a puppet (Taft and Medvedev) while maintaining a strong public profile. Both men later expressed displeasure with their handpicked puppet successor (Roosevelt, of course, vocally enough that he ran for president against him and split the vote enough to put Woodrow Wilson in the White House and deprive the world from seeing how Roosevelt would have potentially handled a World War – ’cause you know there wouldn’t have been any “isolationism” from ol’ invadey.)
By the way, what got me thinking about this was this article and a series of other unusual articles in the Times this week about a spy ring that seemed to spend a lot of time and energy collecting readily available information.