Never mind those boring old red buttons: The new relationship between the USA and Russia is one extreme makeover show


(Everybody loves a red button…)

Of course, by now you must be sick and tired of hearing about team Obama’s less than spotless record when it comes to playing Santa Claus.

The set of DVDs for England’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown and that red button for Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Viktorivich Lavrov were the kind of gifts that keep giving – to news jocks, stand-up comedians and all the others who make a living by picking up the flotsam from the tides of current affairs.

Me, I loved the fact that the Russian word on that red button thingummy spelled ‘overcharge’, instead of ‘reset.’

You could easily consider this a very Freudian slip – as if the people in the White House would love nothing better than to aim the nation’s nukes at those who made overcharging (and handing out obscene bonuses) the very hardcore centre of their crooked core business. Yes, banks, insurance companies, und so weiter, und so weiter.

Anyway, all those jokes about these less than welcome gifts have become a bit stale, by now – and it never was that much of a story to begin with. Obviously, Mrs Clinton’s red button gaff is not quite in the same league as her husband’s actually and very much mistakenly bombing the Hell out of an aspirin factory in Sudan – which proved to be more of a political headache than Hillary’s faux pas.

Mind you, even bombing a wrong factory by mistake was small beer compared to the antics of 43, who invaded Iraq, when the main target was a Saudi expat, living in Afghanistan.

Still, team Obama is trying to mend at least some of those fences that team Bush napalmed and put through the shredder. Of course, cynics may argue that all of this is no more than one of those cheaply produced TV makeover shows and there might even be some truth in that. However, they are, in their way, trying to look a little bit more user-friendly, which you can’t say the last cabal ever bothered with.

Mind you – and talking of makeovers: Maybe it’s good the old guard didn’t go for those. I can more or less cope with the mental image of a Botoxed Hillary, in a mini-skirt and a push-up bra…

… but trying to imagine Donald Rumsfeld in that same outfit?

No. The mind boggles (before it boils dry in self defence.)

By the way, it’s not just the Americans who want to present a new face to the rest of the world: The Russians are at it too.

Putin started that game. Of course, as a former KGB man he had no problem infiltrating enemy territory and he did so very successfully, becoming part of one of the most popular phenomena since Jesus turned those kegs of water into wine. As makeovers go, you can’t get more extreme than going from Communist hardliner to Dobby, the house elf in a Harry Potter movie…

Not that Putin is the only one. Thanks to that red button bit of nonsense, we’ve also had the chance to take a closer look at the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov and he’s obviously spent some time in a cosmic surgery clinic, trying to come up with a look that would reassure the American public.

I’m not sure the result is a total success but it is, at the very least, familiar to most Americans. The guy now looks like a cross between David Letterman and Henry Kissinger.

Russian president Dmitri Medvedev has gone a slightly different route. He decided to aim for the British market – and whatever money he had to fork out for surgery and make-up was money well spent, because he now looks, quite uncannily, like a young, slimmed down Jeremy Clarkson, with Michael Caine eyes.

(More extreme makeovers with uncle Bob and Dr. Seuss…)


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