This story is over 5 years old.

Inside Schilling

Vladimir Putin Is Charming the Pants Off the G20

The Russian leader keeps showing up Barack Obama on Syria. There are many theories as to why the wave of opinion is pushing back against American intervention in the Middle East, but maybe it's that Putin is just cooler than Obama.
Dave Schilling
Κείμενο Dave Schilling

At this weekend’s G20 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin has invested a substantial amount of his time rallying nations to stand against  American efforts to engage in military action against the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad. As of right now, it’s working, and I can imagine Barack Obama pouting in the dark somewhere, like Rihanna at the VMAs. Syria seems like it’s shaping up to be another Iraq. Yet again, large swaths of the international community are choosing to rebuke American military adventurism.


There’s a litany of possible reasons why the wave of world opinion is pushing back against the US. War fatigue, a lack of a clear endgame, and Obama’s inability to shore up support at home are all credible theories. I happen to see it a bit differently. Maybe what the world is just now noticing is that Vladimir Putin is just more charming than Barack Obama.

It seems counter-intuitive to say that when Barack Obama looks like this:

Photo by Flickr User The U.S. Army.

And Vladimir Putin looks like this:

Photo via Wikipedia Commons.

Who’s going to trust a guy whose face screams, “black market seller of human organs, also potential bad tipper”? The nation of Russia and most of the international community do, so I must be onto something. I suppose it’s not really how you look when you’re attempting to seduce someone. It’s about how your carry yourself. It’s about the swag, and Putin’s got a bank vault full of it.

Let’s compare Putin to a few more world leaders. The George Costanza of global politics himself, George W. Bush, couldn’t keep his hands off German Chancellor Angela Merkel and pretty much screwed up any chance he had at getting her to support further military action in Iraq… or getting her to have sex with him.

Former Italian President Silvio Berlusconi was caught having orgies in his home, with strippers paid to wear Barack Obama masks. The surest way to fail when trying to charm a fellow world leader is looking like you’re coming on too strong, or that you’re desperate.


When I’m pursuing a woman, I tend to lean on my sense of humor. I keep a “joke journal” that I pull out on dates. The journal is organized by category. I’ve got a “cute” category, an “edgy” category, a “racially insensitive” category, some stuff on “crippled people,” and of course, a “knock knock joke” category. You always have to be prepared for any situation. It’s obvious to me that Vlad has a huge catalog of jokes at his disposal, which are serving him very well at the moment.

Putin’s jokes are kind of Jeffery Ross, Comedy Central roast-style in that they’re really “in your face” and “controversial.” For example, at an event in July of this year Putin said the following about critics: "As a last resort, they should try Viagra, maybe that will help, their lives will get better and they will see a prettier, brighter side of things, they will see the future." When I took Viagra, I didn’t see the future, but I did go to the hospital because my erection wouldn’t go away. I’m not quite sure what he was getting at there, but you can see it’s funny, right?

In 2006, during a meeting with then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Putin said this about Israeli President Moshe Katsav, who was facing sexual harassment charges at the time:

“He's turned out to be quite a powerful man. Ten women he has raped! I never expected that of him. He's surprised us all! We all envy him!”

A spokesperson for Putin said the joke was mistranslated. I guess there was a whole set-up about a priest, a rabbi, a donkey, and Anna Nicole Smith that we missed that would have really made that joke hit more effectively.


Vladimir Putin is a jokester, an outdoorsman, a karate master, a former spy, a great singer, and he even has his own comic book.  Why wouldn’t any head of state want to be on this guy’s good side? It’s easy to ignore the man’s disregard for the democratic process, his government’s persecution of gay people, and his support for rogue regimes like the ones in Iran and Syria when he’s so damned cool. He's a jack of all trades, and a master of getting what he wants, even if what he wants is to support a murderous regime. If I had his persuasive skills or his sick pecs, I wouldn't relinquish power either.

Dave doesn't really think Vladimir Putin is funny, but he does think his new book, Letters from My Therapist is. It's on Amazon and iBookstore, and will help you see a “prettier, brighter side of things."


More about Putin's Russia:

Meet the Gay Russian Teenager Using Twitter to Combat Homophobia 

The Best of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the Clown Prince of Russian Politics

Portrait of a Russian Oligarch