How Obama Can Out-Badass Putin

Annabelle Gurwitch

4am.  It’s the time I wake up in the middle of the night and wrestle with the big questions.

Is that pillow crease line that used to go away an hour after I got out of bed now just that line I have on my face? I can’t believe I was offered kale ice cream for dessert tonight—got to move out of Los Angeles soon. Why did Donald Sterling have to say he prayed for Magic Johnson at his synagogue?! Wasn’t Bernie Madoff bad enough for the Jews, now this?

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This week I also gave a lot of thought to many of the sayings in our lexicon that need updating.

Africa scholar Bronwyn Bruton was quoted in The New York Times on May 5 saying, “The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls.” But now that we’ve heard the firsthand account from the girls who escaped the kidnapping, “acting like a school girl” must now mean being fiercely courageous heroines.

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With the news of the irreversible melting of the vast western Antarctic glaciers, “moving at a glacial pace” should be used to indicate movement at an astonishingly swift speed.

It’s probably time to retire “going postal” as well. So few people still use the US Postal Service it’s hard to imagine any of the remaining employees being so stressed out they’d resort to erratic and violent behavior. However, Vladimir Putin has stepped it up and is giving us the opportunity to coin a new phrase connoting residency in crazy town. I’d like to suggest introducing “Going Putin” into our vocabulary.

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Every week seems to bring some new level of Going Putin.   When former Ambassador to Russia Mike McFaul was asked on NPR this week what he thinks Putin wants, he said: “I don’t know. Second, I don’t believe anybody who will tell you that they do know. My best guess is that he himself doesn’t know.”  

And what’s our president supposed to do in the face of kind of unpredictability? When “resetting” diplomacy doesn’t work, when sanctions don’t work, the only way to deal with nut cases is to go toe to toe and match their crazy and kick it up a notch, to quote a phrase that thankfully seems to have been retired.

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Obama is often preternaturally calm, so Going Putin might be a challenge, but we could start by taking a cue from Mad Men, one of our Prez’s favorite shows. This season has raised the bar on portraying psychotic breakdowns. What could be more disturbing for Putin than opening a package from Potus only to find he’s sent him a nipple? I didn’t see that one coming on the show, and neither will Putin in real life. It doesn’t have to be Obama’s, I bet we could get any number of Real Housewives of Anywhere to donate one of theirs if a camera is rolling.

We all know Putin loves to hunt. Maybe our president can supersize that passion. Obama needs to hook up with one of those Open Carry posses, join a gangster-style raid on a fast food joint, and, taking a nod from Cheney, accidentally shoot someone.  I’d like to volunteer Marco Rubio, who has let us know that he’s still confused about the data on climate change. Just a graze, that’s all I’m suggesting.

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Our President needs to take inspiration from Spanish attorney Mario Costeja González’s successful suit against Google. Obama should take all evidence of him with Justin Bieber off of the web. Bieber is too small-time with his DUI’s, leaving monkeys in hotel rooms, and this week’s rumors of attempted robbery, and it’s making our president look tame by association.  Obama needs to be photographed with Tyler, the Creator, who was arrested for inciting a riot at SXSW and who invaded BuzzFeed HQ last week. He shot at them with his Nerf Gun, assaulted them with racial epithets, and worst of all, he stole their snacks. My 16-year-old son says he’s pretty badass, so that’s as good an endorsement as I can think of.

Lastly, in a nod to the arrest of Pussy Riot, Obama needs to jail the sisters HAIM. No, they haven’t done anything political or remotely provocative, except when Este declared, “I want to chisel Andrew Garfield’s dick with my labia.” Full disclosure, I had to Google him to know he starred in The Social Network, and I’m a fan of her BassFace, but their music is predictable and annoying. Our President would look unhinged, and a short incarceration might improve their song lyrics.

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The only thing is, he must act soon before Prince Charles opens his mouth and compares Putin to Hitler again. Oh, Charlie, don’t you know that people get really sensitive about comparing even the most heinous criminals to Hitler.  You’d probably get in trouble comparing Hitler to Hitler.  The only person who got away with the Nazi comparison was Jerry Seinfeld with his Soup Nazi. In fact, there’s only one person who is probably happy about Charles’ comment this week and that’s Donald Sterling, who must be skulking around his mansion hoping Charles keeps saying incendiary things to overshadow his incoherent ranting.

Meanwhile, if all else fails for our President, there’s something to be said about doing the expected: the shirtless presidential photo op. Doing shots of vodka. Russian vodka, of course. Good thing it’s almost summer, perfect shirtless weather.

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