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May 9, 2005

Atlas Shrug

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With all the harsh words leading up to the Bush-Putin face-off, I was just itching for a tension-packed visual to get a handle on.  Instead, however, the newswires have been mostly filled with glad handing, the two warheads bending over backward not to make the other look bad. 

If I had to pick the phoniest image, it would be the one of Bush and Putin in the presidential palace playing geography.  After days of Bush tearing Russia apart for having occupied its satellite states after WWII, this scene seems a little off the wall.  With his best “hell if I know how I got into Yale” face on, Bush pretends to let Putin show him what’s what in his own backyard. 

Looking at the map, Putin appears to be pointing toward the Sea of Japan.  (If asked, I’m sure both parties would insist they were discussing North Korea.)  Looking at the body language, however, it appears Bush has put the lean on Putin, shifting the former spy as far east as he can go.  (At least, without drowning.)

Whether by accident or not, the shot ends up reinforcing the Administration’s theme of the week.  In other words, Dubya won’t stand for Vladamir putting his hands anywhere near the Eastern European or Central Asian republics that Washington wants permanently split off from the Russian fold. 

In fact, if you track Bush’s eyes, it seems that — at the same time he graciously attends to his host — he never shifts his focus from that crucial political territory further west.

(image: AFP/ITAR-TASS in YahooNews)

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