It’s the New York Times op/ed you’ve all been waiting for: Russian President Vladimir Putin, in an effort to “…speak directly to the American people…” warns against American unilateral involvement in Syria. Putin writes the ongoing conflict in Syria is not a “…battle for democracy, but an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multi-religious country.” He accepts that chemical weapons were used, but states they were used by opposition forces –and not the Syrian army- to provoke international involvement. His relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust, Putin writes, but he says millions around the world see America “…not as a model for democracy, but as relying solely on brute force.” Finally, he concludes with an argument against American Exceptionalism, saying “We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings we must not forget that God created us all equal.”
Interesting comments, and this move by a sitting Russian President to speak directly to America is unprecedented. What Putin did not include in his piece, though, is the fact that Russian arms sales to Syria are worth $5 billion and Russia’s only naval base on the Mediterranean is located in….you guessed it…Syria. Read the column – it’s interesting….especially when you realize this man calling for peaceful intervention in the conflict was at one time the head of the KGB.
The Boys -And One Goofy Kid- On The Bus
It was the first time I had ever covered a sitting president.
Ok, “covered” might be a bit misleading. I was News Director for my college radio station and had no idea what I was doing at a Presidential event. I must have been twenty years old….and looked even younger.
George Herbert Walker Bush had returned to his native Massachusetts to deliver some sort of address. I think the President was stumping for a Republican Congressional candidate in the 1990 election, but I can’t be sure. What I can be sure of, however, is that it was my first ever contact with The Boys On The Bus.
Who, you ask, are The Boys On The Bus?
That’s the nickname given to the pack of journalists covering the presidential campaign of 1972 and –as I used it- was the name given to the reporters covering Bush at the ’90 event. One reporter stood out. This Boy On The Bus wasn’t a boy at all, but a gracious, pleasant woman who introduced herself, offered some kind words of advice and left me aspiring to be as good a reporter as she was….and is.
“I’m Ann Compton,” she said to me.
“I know who the hell you are,” I thought –in awe- to myself.
What came out of my mouth, however, was something along the lines of, “Basket.” (I think I was trying to make a joke about the venue: the Mashpee Middle School gym, where we were located on risers directly in front of the gym’s hoops.)
I smiled, stupidly, and held out my hand. Perhaps I drooled, too….can’t be sure, you know?
She –worried maybe that I might be dangerous if ignored- shook, and asked me a few questions about my station, my classes and my desire to be a political reporter. To this day, I’m not sure if she was being kind, or simply wanted to keep me talking until the Secret Service arrived to investigate this tall, goofy “reporter” with the just as goofy grin.
Eventually, I regained some of my language skills and we spoke for a few moments. As my career progressed, I’d run into her from time to time; most recently we’d speak on a weekly basis on the morning talk show I co-hosted. Ann, likely, never gave a second thought to that young reporter in Massachusetts (once she realized I was harmless), but I never forgot her kindness.
Last week, Ann celebrated her 40th year covering the White House, and President Obama –the seventh President she’s covered- offered her a celebratory cupcake while flying aboard Air Force One.
…and thanks for not having me kicked out of that event with Bush 41 nearly a quarter century ago.
It’s gotta be the beard.
The Red Sox continue to amaze. Mike Carp’s tenth inning, pinch hit grand slam in St. Pete last night won the game…and elicited the finest comment ever from Derek Lowe: “If you’re going to have it, you might as well yank on it.”
I think he was talking about Carp’s beard.
I hope he was talking about Carp’s beard.
Pats. Jets. Tonight. Foxboro.
You like football?
You like piano?
You’ll freakin’ love this!
(Hat tip to Deadspin for the link)