Russian President Vladimir Putin's annual keynote speech at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which he delivered Friday, was highly anticipated as it may be his most important economic message of the year. Yet anyone who expected Putin to reveal some kind of plan for dealing with Russia's economic crisis must be sorely disappointed. Crisis? What crisis?
Given Russia's economic performance, much of Putin's speech was first-class, straight-faced stand-up comedy.
What isn't comedy Gold is Putin's effort to justify Stalin's power as a solution to Russia's problems.
Clearly, Putin wants to live in a world where Russians (and anyone within reach of his military, really) must believe whatever he says--or else.
One of Putin's top security advisors certainly seems comfortable in this alternate reality world:
"They don't care what will happen in Ukraine, they just need to exert pressure on Russia, so that is what the United States is doing," he said.
"They would want very much that Russia would not exist. As a country," he said.
Seriously, WTF? With this kind of thinking, no amount of "reset" could ease their paranoia.
Oh, and check this out. Russia is playing with Texas secessionists. Comedy Gold.
At this point, I'd be more comforted by the explanation that Putin is lying since it means he thinks rationally than by thinking he really believes what he (and his deputies) is selling.
But that's not a problem unique to Russia's leader.
And we might be worse off:
You know, I actually believe my own bullshit.
So the Russians have that going for them.