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George and Vladimir's kabuki contortions [View All]

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NVMojo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Feb-28-05 04:46 AM
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George and Vladimir's kabuki contortions
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Monday, February 28, 2005
White House Letter

WASHINGTON One of the strangest kabuki dances of George W. Bush's presidency was his news conference last week with President Vladimir Putin of Russia in Bratislava, Slovakia. For 34 minutes, with bits of sweat on his upper lip, Bush had to contort himself into a public reprimand of Putin for Russia's slide from democracy while asserting that their relationship was just great.
The body language suggested otherwise. To be in the room at the medieval Bratislava Castle overlooking the Danube was to be transfixed by the spectacle of a big friendly Labrador retriever trying to make friends with a cat. As the presidents stood side by side at their matching lecterns, Bush smiled and gestured and tried to warm up "Vladimir," who stood in icy repose, refusing to be charmed.
The two had come from an unusual hour-long one-on-one meeting, with just interpreters present. A senior administration official later said that the discussions "never got heated," but he wasn't in the room. In public, Bush was nothing but sunny. "In our meeting earlier I said, 'Vladimir, when we get in here I think people are going to be very interested in this press conference, for some reason - I'm not sure why,"' Bush began, alluding to the build-up during his trip to Europe last week of his head-to-head with Putin. "Perhaps it's because you're a leader of a great nation and I'm fortunate to be one, too."
Bush grinned impishly; Putin looked grim.
The first term now seems like ancient history. Those were the days of romance that bloomed with the first date in June 2001, when Bush said that he had looked Putin in the eye and gotten a sense of his soul.


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