Bad Vlad?

So he is Time’s “Person of the Year”. Its cache long since dead. Do you honestly read Time (or the bulk of it) anymore? Didn’t think so. It hasn’t ‘re-designed’ itself to mimic Entertainment Weekly entirely but it’s not far behind. We get it, flip through (sometimes) and toss – often in one fluid (we hope) motion. Kerchunck.

So Putin must take all of that into account. He (or his staff) surely must know that when the Corporal was “Man of Year”, Henry Robinson Luce strode across the American media — and New York Society — like a behemoth. Even when Gorby won in 1988, Time still meant something.

Today? Joe Klein, like battleships of yore, rages against those mosquito (airplanes to complete the analogy) bloggers. If Time sent Annie Leibovitz, Putin could at least get off knowing that via her camera he joined the immortal ranks of Lennon, etc. The cold plain fact is that “Man of the Year” is less important than People’s “Sexiest Man Alive.” Both in media saturation and utility. At least People gives Putin some entre into studios and first pass on decent scripts. What can Time do anymore?

We could go into a long discourse about Putin’s political choices, not a little bit of American hypocrisy since 1991 and the like, but this is not the time or place. That conversation deserves both seriousness and, well, Henry Robinson Luce. Perhaps we will offer some musings later on. We just note in passing that if Time is irrelevant, so are calls for Petraeus or other minor historical functionaries to receive the ‘honor’. Might as well include Ashley Simpson or the like. Is this year’s choice any different from the infamous “you”? We’ll leave that to others to debate.

Putin has other worries on his mind such as the Russian “Man of Year” curse. Since he won in 1988, Gorbachev proved himself largely incompetent domestically but useful geopolitically to the Americans. (Baker’s coup de main bringing the entire intact Germany into NATO a historic diplomatic achievement (although Cher Condi may have written an article about it years later). At least Gorby knows that along with Schevardnadze he helped end the Cold War and the threat of global incineration. Today he hawks Louis Vuitton hand bags.

Vlad, don’t look down it’s a long long way to fall. We don’t see Putin doing Louis Vuitton. Or any of the Xtreme sports stuff. A Bentley anyone?


  1. Dr.LeoStrauss says

    Security and penetration issues are both legit and can become a prism that can distort the world (the mirrors trope, etc.). Some parts of the Community have different priorities and requirements than others, of course. For example, the NSA naturally is interested in talented mathematicians. The completely legitimate thorough background check for the nature of the work to us seems legitimate and necessary.

    Sometimes candidates seem to self-select out of the opportunity to serve in the Community. The assume their past romantic political flings in college (for example) would disqualify them. These notions are fed by Hollywood and thrillers and Ashes, etc. Here lies a self-fulfilling outcome. We’ve always believed the real issue is to test the disqualification notion. Apply and after the application see if one is being turned down. We’ve seen it go both ways and know rejection can be painful. But success and a positive career are also possible. It determines what the check turns up and it may be issues such as foreign contacts (for example) rather than smoking some grass and doing air guitar to Hendrix that can play a role.

    Kramer’s issues, if any, might have to do with his personality and suitability to working in a sensitive environment. We do have to admit, however, that his running of the Money Honey during the Boom Years was a decent covert op. His missed opportunity perhaps is Microsoft as Steve Ballmer also throws chairs.

    Finally, we have to say passing that the romance notion can turn both ways. Serving also imposes some burdens (perhaps eroded under Tenet) of discipline, family issues (real as depicted in Syriana and Good Shepherd etc.) As we all know at some fundamental level, sometimes fantasies remain so for healthy and good reason — swimming the English channel, parachuting off a ski ledge, etc. Fantasies also relieve one of the stress of current environments — grass is greener. We have known so many Wall Streeters who profess to hate their jobs but remain addicted to the game.

    How many actually test the notion by applying? Even the Bureau today says past casual drug use is not a bar for applicants.

  2. Comment says

    One anecdote we recall – a while back a friend, following college, wanted to get involved in Community work – A grad of a top school with a brutal major – He was quite bright, and was multi-lingual in tough languages. His problem? He had a bad grad point average. As Conrad Black might say – that was aa rather bourgeois objection. No? Had he decided not to have fun in college or took a gut major at a middle rank school, a perfect GPA would have been no problem. Anyway – he did well, but this particular anecdote may not mean much, but it does highlight the nature of part of the problem and the bogus nature of what constitues “standards.”

  3. Comment says

    re Ash Legacy – Have not read it – just looked into it, as they say. But it seems Weiner overlooks the possibility that it just happens to be the ‘best of all possible worlds.’ Afterall – if you look at the endless series of mishaps and errors, you notice a pattern. Call it traffic analysis of political benefit – Policymakers are pleased by the errors and they are pleased to have a vague entity to take the blame. Over and over again – This is not a conspiracy theory – just a coincidence theory. It’s just a happy coincidence. Also – what would happen if Weiner got his wish and it became a first class shop all around. What kind of free society makes Intelligence its leading industry? It’s just impossible.
    This is sort of off topic, but a few days ago Jim Cramer was talking about how he never got a job he wanted working for Rudy when Rudy was US attorney – He said he lacked the grades, so he became a Wall St. dude instead. This seemed implausible because he was quite a bright student. It may have been because his one time left politics at Harvard created political stumbling blocks. Surely, he would have been rejected by the Agency for that reason, if that was where he wanted to direct his fine analytical mind.
    Somewhere in the past – as noted here on STSOZ, the Agency found it politically necessary to restrict whole swaths, for better or worse, from even thinking about becoming Agency employs. So it comes as no surprise that they end up with UBL experts who don’t travel well or speak Arabic.
    Anecodotally we can think of a number of people working well paying jobs – deep in the heart of the meritocracy – who talked loudly about wanting to do Agency type work, but they never would have been allowed in, once they had to explain why they wrote poems for CISPES when they were in college etc. Somewhere our politics decided this was what was wanted.

  4. Dr.LeoStrauss says

    Yeah, looked at Legacy of Ashes and think it a bit overwrought — just like Ranelagh’s Rise and Decline was back in the 1980s. Although both contain details important and often airbrushed aside.

    As you know well, participants here in general have been skeptical like the Stiftung of the Agency, especially under Wolsey and Tenet. Whether this extends back to Dulles or even further is another matter.

  5. Comment says

    Meant to say purcase by AOL – Oh wait, wasn’t it a merger of equals or something? Time Warner had a gross rev that was endless and AOL had some bogus metric like dials per month or whatever was used to value it. Anyway – the power of person of the month is living off fumes of the past.

  6. Comment says

    Luce would be both amazed and saddened at Time if he were here today – That new Time bldg on Columbus circle is better than most people expected. But consider the purchase of AOL – AOL stock was more overvalued than the dollar was at the beginning of Bush 43. Recall sometime around ’96 when AOL restated almost all of it’s earings, revealing a profitless life up til that point. Yet – accounting funny biz that later laid waste to more substantial enterprises allowed it access to capital markets that live shark-like and keep on keeping on.
    Stengle admitted last year or the previous year that they did not pick certain people for person of the year if it did not “feel right” (ie upset advertisers or caused trouble) – So it’s worthless as prize or statement

  7. Anon says

    OT – But as we noted – a Huckabee presidency is , alas, impossible – His rancid populism makes him beyond the pale for the power elite. Interesting to see Tweety freak out watching him take up the cross when Bush did the same things (albeit with some winks) for years. Tweety will make exception for St. McCain’s new ad, featuring a cross in the sand. Anyway – this new thing from Romney shows Rudy a way back into the fold. Check out these amazing lies:

  8. A Random Comment says

    “Do you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged from reality? I started feeling that way a while ago, when I was still working for The Weekly Standard and all these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bunch of “neoconservatives” at the magazine had taken over U.S. foreign policy … but belief in a shadowy neocon influence has now hardened into common knowledge. Wesley Clark, among others, cannot go a week without bringing it up.”
    ~David Brooks
    NYT 1-6-04

  9. A Random Comment says

    “Do you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged from reality? I started feeling that way a while ago, when I was still working for The Weekly Standard and all these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bujnch of “neoconservatives” at the magazine had taken over U.S. foreign policy.”
    ~David Brooks
    NY Times 1-6-04

  10. Comment says

    Hey, didn’t Putin’s lofty surge in Grozney quiet things down in Chechnya a bit? We’ll have to ask Carter about that.

  11. Comment says

    “We don’t see Putin doing Louis Vuitton.” – Putin still has plent of branding opportunities, should he go that route. He could play off his reputation for being a man whose enemies tend to die and then try to concert that into some noirish appeal – Mickey Spillane with some real edge.
    Should Hollywood beckon – Putin has plent of tales to tell. He could team up with Al Haig and do a war stories type series. Board Game and Video game.

  12. Comment says

    re Baker’s coup de main – Didn’t Baker pull that off, in part, by telling the Sovs that NATO expansion would not go further on? The latter decision to break that promise will probably come with some cost down the road.

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