Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

August 21, 2013

'Putin' us in trouble

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The last time the president was in Buffalo, some woman with raging hormones felt it was necessary to tell the POTUS that he was “hot.” That did nothing to improve the general impression that the rest of the world has of Western New York, and I am sure that something will happen this time around to allow us to retain our title of “that snowy place up north that is desperate for attention” for another year.

The people who are into protesting have a lot of things to choose from. There is Obama making his way to our neck of the woods, Governor Cuomo is always a target for general frustration and the Russians have done their best to upset a world that is finally realizing that people are people, regardless of who they want to cuddle with.

I am not surprised that the Russians are taking such a stance against the gay rights movement. I am just surprised that everyone else is surprised. No matter who assumes the office of president, or premier, or whatever, let us be clear that Vladimir Putin is the guy in charge in Russia. He tried to put a figurehead out there to deflect some of the heat, but it didn’t work. Everyone knows that Putin is in charge and there is no one in Russia who will argue that fact.

The Russians have said that anyone who tries to protest in favor of gay rights during the Olympics will be imprisoned. This has shocked a lot of people. I know it can be hard to forget that Russia is essentially a dictatorship run by Putin, but that is the way it is. There is no regard for human rights in Russia. Nor does Vlad really care about the growing trends towards compassion that have taken hold in the rest of the world.

Vladimir Putin is not the kind of guy to mess with. He is very old school and that is what scares me. Putin himself doesn’t scare me, it is our own inability to stand together that concerns me. The Cold War is heating up again, and we are so ill-prepared that I am genuinely concerned for the future of our country.

I am not sure what President Obama had in mind when he thought it would be a good idea to poke the Russian Bear with insults and political sabre-rattling, but he definitely got Putin’s attention. Don’t get me wrong, I am definitely not a Russian sympathizer. But when Vladimir Putin essentially laughed at President Obama’s threats of boycotting the Olympics and a few other choice tidbits of foreign policy, that is when I knew we were in trouble.

See folks, the renewing of the Cold War is exactly the kind of thing that we should have been fearing all along and preparing for. But we decided to start stepping on each other’s throats instead. Our country is deeply divided on some of the stupidest issues. It really matters what a person’s sexual preference is? That is an issue that is really worth dividing the country over?

When the first Cold War was going on, we had guys like Ronald Reagan in charge. Say what you want about Reagan’s politics, but the guy knew how to handle the Soviets. Then again, none of the Soviet leaders that Reagan dealt with were as devious and strong-willed as Putin.

During the Cold War, our country was united against a common enemy. We all hated the Soviets and we were, for the most part, behind our president in taking them on to win the Cold War. The Soviet Union fell, so we won. But now Russia is making a comeback and we are in no condition to handle it.

This country is filled with people who are only interested in their own agendas. No one has any desire to do anything for the common good anymore. I have no idea what the president’s agenda is, but it doesn’t look very people-friendly to me. The rest of us are all divided along battle lines against each other. We desperately want to look across the hall and hate that guy in the other office for something. No matter how trivial the issue, violent argument ensues. American versus American. Whether the battle is over religion, race, politics or economics, we live to hate each other.

If we do not drop these petty differences and find something we can all get behind, then we may all be drinking Russian Vodka and wearing tall, fuzzy hats some winter very soon. You think I am kidding? The next time you see Vladimir Putin’s picture on the news, turn up the sound and actually listen to what he has to say. Putin ain’t playing. And we are in no condition to fight back this time.

George N. Root III is a Lockport resident who hates vodka. His column is published every Wednesday, but not in Moscow. He can be reached at georgeroot@verizon.net, comrade.