Sunday, September 8, 2013

Putin Greets Obama at the G20 Summit and Betrays his Insecurity




It’s easy to think of some large corporations as being beyond human. When you think of Google does a human being come to mind? Same thing with a bank. It’s in their interests to keep it amorphous; makes them seem more powerful and you more helpless because what can you do about a corporation that has too much power but nobody to be accountable to you?

But even the celebrity-type corporate leaders who have intentionally splashed their name all over the place, seem kind of beyond human. Whoever thinks of Jeff Bezos as having real emotions, capable of being hurt?

As for politicians and world leaders nobody cares what they feel, especially if they’re kind of unpopular or provide great target practise for prejudice-burdened mentalities, and most especially if they fill the formal role of public scapegoat. When you need to openly persecute somebody you don’t want to keep in mind that you’re hurting a real person. 

Even if a politician is generally popular, most people, whether they realize it or not, look on them as if they’re machines. As if they’re somehow immune from emotions, especially doubt and low self esteem.

They aren't, though. Take Paul Ryan for instance. When he came on board Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign he was hailed as the Republican boy-wonder genius with huge intellectual strength. The fresh face that could rescue the Republican party. I’d heard about him and expected a very powerful, energetic man in his prime. But that isn’t who I saw. Within days he tilted his head to the side a la Mitt and his tone of voice took on the same soppy pleading, his body the same kind of defeatist stance. Conclusion: no power there at all.

But it’s when leaders get together that you really see what’s underneath the public persona. The trick is to either blank out the content if you can, or shut off the sound, and focus on the body language. It’s a dead give-away.

Recently the New York Times showed a video of Vladimir Putin welcoming Barack Obama outside the building where the G20 summit was happening. Obama stepped out of his shiny black car and walked towards Putin. They shook hands, said a few words. Obama smiled at the cameras, Putin followed suit and Obama strode off.

Vladimir Putin comes across as a bully and very sure of himself when he’s on his own or surrounded by supporters. But put him next to Barack Obama and he’s surprisingly insecure and unable to hold onto that bully-persona which just slips away from him; you can see he has no control. Fascinating. It doesn’t help that Obama is much taller, but it’s more than that. Without effort, Obama had the lead all the way, not because he’s a bully but because he’s inherently the stronger man. 

As he walked away towards the entrance he did so with purpose, energy and resolve. Putin was left standing on his own waiting presumably for the next arrival. But he looked small and insignificant. And he looked as if he knew it.