"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Putin Divorces Lyudmila–Gotta Love Those Russians

There is a lot to to worry about when considering Russia.  It is supporting Syria, and State Department strategists are trying to figure out exactly what the country has to gain from backing an obviously murderous retrograde like Assad.  Colonels at the War College are still plotting out first-, second- and third-strike options in case (when) we resume the Cold War with our old, implacable, enemy.  We thought everyone in Russia hated the Soviet Union, its gulags, the KGB, and rulers who could only leave office on a slab; but Vladimir Putin rides high.  The bare-chested, take-no-prisoners (except Khodorovsky) president is a macho hero in the old czarist tradition, and the leader the people want.


Not only that, Putin can do things no other Russian or American for that matter can even consider.  He apparently inspired James Cameron’s Avatar:

If you think Putin and the Russians are really different from us, consider the divorce of Vladimir and his wife, Lyudmila.  It is one thing to have a live-in mistress, like French President Holland, or a live-out cinq-a-sept lover like Francois Mitterrand had, but to divorce a long-standing, faithful wife? To trade her in for a new model?  If any American President even contemplated such a thing, he would be pilloried, stretched on a feminist rack, drawn and quartered at the hands of disempowered women, hectored by frustrated single ladies, lambasted by the religious Right, and excommunicated by every God-fearing American.

Vladimir Putin and his wife Lyudmila

How could Putin get away with such a thing? Well, he is a dictator, and they can do pretty much what they please; and if he can throw dissidents into jail; threaten, intimidate, and scare his enemies into compliance and submission; then he can jettison a has-been wife. Having finally created a Russian presidency in the true czarist tradition; having concentrated and consolidated his power, and finally having established a monarchical rule – all with the acclaim of the ‘electorate’ who want ‘stability’ and direction - casting Lyudmila loose from her moorings is child’s play.

But wait a second here.  Who dumped whom? In an article in The Telegraph (6.9.13) William Langley notes that “Lyudmila Putin once described her husband as a vampire. He suggested that anyone who could put up with her for three weeks deserved a national monument”; and that after 30 years of putting up with him, she finally said sayonara. Actually she said more than that, and said that she wanted to set the record straight:

The prevailing theory is that both Putins, particularly Lyudmila, a 55-year-old former airline hostess, thought it was time to clear things up. The gossip flying around Moscow dinner tables had reached an embarrassing pitch, with stories of Mrs. Putin living in an underground nunnery on the Estonian border, and her husband Vladimir supposedly involved with Alina Kabaeva, a 30-year-old, half-Tatar gymnast, said to be possessed of “incredible flexibility.”

So she didn’t really dump him.  He simply shamed her into sailing downriver, and now his gymnastic sex can be out in the open.  The Russian public has been shocked and surprised at the divorce since for two centuries no Russian leader has ever “lifted the veil on his public life”; and perhaps even more importantly, the last Russian monarch to get divorced was Peter the Great over 300 years ago. I know little Russian history, but if the reign of England’s Henry VIII was any indication, monarchs unhappy with their wives simply trumped up charges against them and cut off their heads.  No need for divorce when you are king, emperor, or czar. 

So, American geopolitical strategists need to pay attention.  Putin, in this one simple, dismissive wave of his hand, was more defiant of tradition, more indifferent to public opinion, and more secure in his absolute power than anyone since Joseph Stalin.

To see how radical this divorce is and how different the Russians are, just look at our recent American presidents. First of all, does anyone think that First Ladies would initiate divorce proceedings when they are living a dream?  The White House, butlers, deference, and clean sheets every night is a very hard package to turn down. Even Hilary Clinton, a woman’s woman, feminist hero, strong and determined, looked the other way as Monica Lewinsky sucked Bill’s dick under the Lincoln desk.  Hilary knew that he was her sugar daddy, political patron, and First Supporter who was made all the more eager to help after he was caught with his pants down.  No, divorce was never an issue.

Jackie Kennedy, then.  What about her? Bill Clinton’s idea of sex was some trailer-trash, smarmy fantasy; but Jack Kennedy had taste.  He fucked the most beautiful women in the world, and with his rock-star appeal and sexual appetites, he was an appealing President for men and women. So Jackie kept quiet, because she got to redecorate the White House and knew that when Jack’s term was over, she could quietly go back to her sophisticated life, marry someone a lot more respectable than a lace-curtain Irish son of a bootlegger, and do quite well for herself.  Forget the fact that her second husband was a greasy Greek cretin rather than an old WASP from Philadelphia; the point is she knew that she had a future after the White House, so why not hold on for a few years while her husband poked his dodgy back out.

What about Pat Nixon?  If anyone had reason to ask for a divorce, it was Pat. She stood by her man because she didn’t know any better; but she must have wondered what she was doing with a duplicitous, lying sleazebag like Tricky Dick.  All the state dinners, servants, and limousines could not possibly have made up for sleeping next to that creep. Yet, she held on.

The Presidents, too, held on to their marriages although for other reasons altogether.  They knew that the American public would not stand for such a dereliction of Christian probity and right; and thanks to the complicity of the press, they knew that they could go tomcatting every night and keep a holy demeanor.  Anecdotes from Lyndon Johnson’s Secret Service detail told of his nighttime prowling and sexual appetites. Johnson, like all men in power, was a pussy hound, and few women could refuse Johnson’s johnson even though the man was a Texan buffoon.

It is hard to imagine that Zachary Taylor stayed faithful to his dutiful wife, Margaret (below); but he didn’t divorce her.

So, the Putins’ divorce is not something to be taken lightly.  Putin did not continue to patiently ignore Lyudmila, worried about public opprobrium; nor did he cut off her head.  At the pinnacle of his power and knowing that he was untouchable – no one would raise a peep about his divorce. We expect just about everything from our presidents.  There will be more Hardings and Nixons in our future; and a latter-day George W. Bush, down in history for for his lying and misadventures, will certainly be elected sometime soon.  However, there will be no presidential divorces, a fact that is the best indicator of our leaders’ political frailty and the indomitable power of the Putins of the world.

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