I’ll just cut straight to the awesome headline from Reuters:
A lot of politicians with their own skeletons in the closet or fanatical devotion to a particular ideology or whatever else are sometimes referred to as a “gangster” or some other similar term. Dick Cheney is a case in point. The illegal wiretapping, torture, suspending of habeus corpus, etc. are all certainly things that wouldn’t be too surprising to your average mafioso. But the terminology is used as a form of derision because the target of such often believes him or herself to have too much power to be lumped in with people whom they may consider to be common criminals.
But those who would make that kind of response would be right in a sense. There really is a difference between signing off on some extraordinary rendition from the comfort of your air-conditioned office and, say, actually killing someone for talking to a journalist. Or being the journalist in question. Or being related to the journalist. Or looking like him or her. One is ‘gangsta,’ while the other is just pathetic, impotent, old bureaucrats reliving their tedious childhoods playing with Army dolls or whatever it is they did.
But Putin is a different story, which is why these kids respect him. Sure, he’s bloodthirsty and power-mad and probably a criminal many times over, but he’s also a hell of a lot closer to the American Dream mythology of a “self-made man” than any American politician. So that’s probably why they were apparently chanting “Respect, Vladimir Vladimirovich,” even after Putin told them about his drug and alcohol induced breakdancing injuries. Or something like that.