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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

PRUyal Pageant Blemished by Senior Seeking “Better Living Today”

I see skies of blue..... clouds of white
Bright blessed days....dark sacred nights
And I think to myself .....what a wonderful world.
Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World”

Not all went according to plan at a gala event marking the 100th Day of the Anticrisis Coalition. As the glitterati took turns in mounting the rostrum, one could probably hear the hissing sound of static electricity that accompanied this ego-stroking parade.

Resting on the laurels of fame was Premier Victor Yanukovych, the “Queen of the Night.”

Had he developed as much — or as little — appreciation of Western culture as Kim Il Sung or Saddam Hussein had, that night we would have heard him humming that famous Louis Armstrong song.

The speech he delivered glorified the many achievements of his Cabinet, such as getting a good deal from Russia on natural gas supplies for FY 2007 and lessening the pain at the pump by having fuel traders agree to voluntary price cuts. (He failed to mention that the former comes at a certain geopolitical price, and that the latter perfectly corresponds with the seasonal slowdown in world demand for oil.)

One of the exit lines he threw at the audience was “work is being done to expand the coalition.” (Well, if we heed the latest news, NSNU has once again settled its orientation in favor of an opposition role. Don’t be a menace to NSNU while drinking your juice in the hood.)

Rather than allowing closer contact with his voters, these days Yanukovych takes far more interest in achieving greater control over enterprises in which the government has a majority stake — through the practice of populating their management with his associates.

In fact, the miracle man who promised us BLT (“Better Living Today”) has now updated his vocabulary with words like populism and squandermania.

Just when he was done with impressing the hell out of the audience and was about to retreat from the rostrum, the moment of truth came.

Straight out of the blue, an unidentified senior citizen came flying down the aisles like a fighter jet, repeatedly calling Yanukovych by name, in a squeaky voice full of distress. Not even a Cabinet “janitor” like Anatoliy Tolstoukhov could prevent him from storming the stage, where he hoped to make physical contact with his idol.

But guess what? The idol took immediate evasive action and fell back to base, at full speed, in a tsarlike manner. His reaction to the man he left behind? Zero.

No one knows exactly how that passionate elderly man had landed on the invitation list, in the first place. But, according to the media, he meant Yanukovych no harm and merely intended to hand him a grievance letter. Presumably a Yanukovych supporter, he had a problem that he believed Yanukovych could solve. Well, it wasn’t his day. By the time his expeditionary tactics had propelled him on stage, no one was there for him, except for the security detail. So much for BLT.

This episode echoes Jimmy Carter’s infamous swamp rabbit encounter.

Yet, comparatively speaking, Carter comes across as more of a well educated idealist than an undereducated elitist, a role more suited for Yanukovych.

So, at the risk of being accused of overstating the case, the question would be: Does the man who enjoys the highest approval rating in Ukraine derive it from respect for the little man? Telltale episodes like this suggest that even America’s highest paid image makers cannot erase some deeply-seated power distance values that our dignitaries have to live with.

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