One thing I can’t understand about Putin is how so many conservative people, inside and outside of Russia, can’t stop talking about how manly he supposedly is. During St. Petersburg’s infamous international neo-fascist conference earlier this year, an anti-abortion, anti-LGBT speaker from Scotland displayed a slideshow of Putin’s various photo ops, commenting on what a “real man” the Russian
dictator president is. It’s funny how people can look at obviously staged photo ops of a man apparently trying to nurture an image of toughness and actually fall for it hook, line, and sinker. Even people who aren’t Putin supporters, typically Western media types, buy into the myth.
In fact, I can think of another president who liked to project a certain macho image- George W. Bush. The difference is, however, that if we compare Bush to Putin, Bush actually comes out as more “manly,” by conventional standards. Given Bush’s economic background, that’s pretty pathetic to be out-manned by him. Let us see how they stack up.
First let’s start with the obvious- height. Who is bigger? George W. Bush is 1.82 meters, a full 12 cm taller than Vladimir Putin at 1.70 meters. Incidentally, Obama is taller than both of them.
“Why are you so short?”
Next let’s talk about horse riding. Everyone knows that photo of Putin riding a horse shirtless. Bush, on the other hand, has a ranch, where I’m sure he has several horses of his own. I also doubt he rides shirtless, because this is a desperate cry for attention from a man who lacks self confidence, possibly because he is very short.
What about voices? Bush doesn’t have a really deep voice, but he obviously spent time cultivating that Texan accent. It’s stupid as hell, but it is very masculine in a conventional sense. Putin on the other hand has a very soft voice, which is even worse when he speaks English. This does not sound good when you go on a rant about a bear frolicking in the forest eating berries and honey.
Remember how people said they’d rather have a beer with George W. Bush than Al Gore? I think they were imagining sitting at the bar with “Dubya,” in some Honky Tonk joint, discussing how one professional sports team scored more points than their opponents during their most recent match. Nobody wants to have a beer with Putin, ever. Nobody except Germany’s Gerhard Schroder, and even then they didn’t visit a bar. According to Putin himself, they were in a banya, i.e. a place where you’d only be wearing a towel and a stupid looking hat, with nothing else. And speaking of “Dubya,” Bush at least has a nickname. Putin’s nickname is “dickhead,” and it was invented in Ukraine, not Russia.
Not even Putin’s own family likes him. While George W. Bush is still married and probably sees his daughters often, Putin’s wife left him after years of estrangement, and at least one of his daughters lives abroad in what the Kremlin’s own media calls “Gayropa.” In fact, she lives in the Netherlands, the gayest of Gayropean countries. She prefers that to Russia. Putin has no real friends and if he’s smart he suspects the group of corrupt yes-men around him.
Now let’s talk about manly careers. Nobody can shut up about Putin being an ex-KGB agent. The problem is that in reality he had a desk job in East Germany. It’s not like he was some kind of trained assassin hunting down Mujehadeen leaders in Afghanistan.
Bush on the other hand, was often maligned for his curious military record during the Vietnam War. Compared a highly decorated Vietnam vet like John Kerry, Bush’s time in the Texas Air National Guard seems laughable. Compared to Putin, however…Well that’s a different story. George W. Bush flew fighter jets. This is something which can still be dangerous today, let alone in the 1960’s. What is more, George W. Bush famously landed on an aircraft carrier in 2003.
People got mad at Bush for wearing the flight suit, but think about it for a minute. George W. Bush actually earned a military uniform. By contrast, Putin loves to appear in military uniforms in spite of never serving in the military.
“BUT WHAT ABOUT IRAQ, NEOCON SCUM?!” Yes, yes, I was just getting to that. See when Bush invaded Afghanistan, he said he’d do it, then he did it. He did the same with Iraq. Soldiers killed in both conflicts were and still are acknowledged for their service. When a few were captured, the government did what they could to recover them. Those who were killed were granted military funerals. Obviously veteran care in the US is seriously lacking, but it far eclipses that of Russia, which brings us to Putin’s conflict in Ukraine.
Like Bush, Putin used false pretenses to launch an opportunistic war on a far weaker country. Unlike Bush, however, Putin is too afraid to come out and admit it. While he whines about the horrors Ukraine is allegedly visiting upon poor, persecuted Russian speakers in the Donbas (excepting those who are now left on the government side, who are now “khlokhy” and “ukropi”), Putin and his government simultaneously insist that they have absolutely no involvement in this conflict in spite of all evidence to the contrary. Soldiers are buried anonymously, captured soldiers are disowned. Why does his media make claims about genocide against Russians, while he swears in public that he’s doing nothing to prevent it? Sanctions, of course. He and his rich friends are afraid of sanctions. Think about that for a second- If you believe all Putin’s rhetoric about Ukraine is true, you cannot avoid the fact that he’s letting Ukraine commit “genocide.”
Now some people might point out that unlike George W. Bush, Putin is an accomplished black belt in Judo. Indeed, but if you sounded and looked like Putin, you’d have to be. He’s even admitted that when he was a kid, people were constantly trying to kick his ass. Now he’s got to hope that if Ramzan Kadyrov ever gets mad at him, he can counter his boxing skills with a harai goshi. Not an easy thing if nearly all your life you trained in straight Judo without dealing with strikes. This might also be a good time to point out that not only did Kadyrov actually serve in combat, but he did so in a guerrilla war against a far more powerful opponent. He also has a Hero of Russia award, unlike Putin. But this is about Putin vs. George W. Bush.
George W. Bush became president under suspicious circumstances, but at least he had the integrity to respect the rules and leave after 8 years. Not so for Putin. I couldn’t stand Bush as a president, but at least he’s gone. Imagine fifteen years of Bush. We’d be bogged down in a guerrilla war in Brazil or India by now. On the other hand, Putin has got his country bogged down in a war he can’t even admit to fighting, while he crushes cheese and fruit on his own borders in a hilarious attempt to wage economic war on countries with far more powerful economies than Russia’s.
Putin’s Western bootlickers often talk about how he’s the most attacked leader in the world. Please. Bush was under attack from day zero. The very legitimacy of his presidency was questioned (with good reason). Hell, he was ruthlessly attacked on his campaign, more for his speaking gaffes than things like, I don’t know, lying about the nature of the estate tax. Just like Putin, Bush was attacked as a tyrant post 9/11. Massive rallies took place across the country virtually every year. Entire media outlets sprouted up to challenge his propaganda. By contrast, Putin is afraid of independent media and especially protests. Bush had to weather a constant storm of criticism in a country whose media he didn’t control, with strong free speech laws that he couldn’t suppress the way Putin can do and has done. “Most attacked leader” my ass.
Bush is so secure in his manhood, he saw no problem holding hands with a Saudi prince. He was probably thinking: “So he wants to hold hands? Fine. I don’t give a shit. I don’t feel threatened.”
Putin on the other hand, did this:
Draw your own conclusions.
So if you’ve been keeping score, I think the facts are obvious at this point. If conventional masculinity is your thing, George W. Bush beats Putin in almost every category. If you look up to Putin as a manly role model, it’s your own conventional masculinity that is in question. And if you literally look up to Putin, you’re probably Dmitry Medvedev.*
*No disrespect intended toward Dmitry Medvedev, easily one of Russia’s top three presidents who presided over what seems like a Golden Age compared to the present. Also unlike Putin, Medvedev left the presidency, and he can also dance: