It’s the first meeting between President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin since Obama canceled plans for a bilateral meeting at the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Putin has been defiant in several areas of foreign policy, including giving temporary refuge to intelligence leaker Edward Snowden and blocking United Nations action against the Assad regime in Syria. And while the main topic on the agenda for this weekend’s meeting is economic growth and fighting tax evasion by major corporations, that’s not going to stop anyone from wondering about the role the more contentious issues might play in the annual summit.
So, of course, we are going to overanalyze this first interaction of the two leaders.
Obama heads over to Putin after getting out of the special, presidential car, aptly named “The Beast.” The other leaders strolled up in regular Mercedes, according to reports. This shows a sense of poise, confidence, and strength — strong attributes you want to show a potential rival. Putin is an old pro at this. He’s tested his language skills with 30 other leaders thus far. The two men extend hands for what’s likely to be a firm shake. Neither man wants to seem hesitant, nor break eye contact. For now, the men are equals. The real test comes next.
The two leaders are now sharing some small talk. We do know that Putin knows a limited amount of English. Obama could be commenting on the seemingly lovely weather in the Russian city. “I thought the Russian winter might have started already,” Obama could have commented. The Russian premier looks polite, but not over enthusiastic about the comment. After all, he does have his own domestic appearance to hold up.
Next, the Russian president tries to return fire with his own snide comment. Maybe he’ll tell a joke. “Why did the chicken cross the road? To avoid extradition to the United States.” Obama gives it a hearty laugh, but will likely scoff at the memory of this moment. “I didn’t know Russians had a sense of humor,” Obama might have retorted.
Well that was awkward — an interaction that lasted only 15 seconds. Putin maintains his position for the next arrival of a world leader. All he knows is that this is probably not the last interaction between the two leaders this week. They might bump into each other at the restroom, or the two men might share some vodka later that night and have a major breakthrough on foreign relations. For now, however, it’s back to the same old, same old. As Obama walks away, Putin thinks to himself, “Reset, my ass,” and waits for the next leader to arrive.
All photos by the Associated Press
What We're Following See More »
According to a new CNN/ORC poll, Donald Trump emerged from the GOP convention "ahead of Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House, topping her 44% to 39% in a four-way matchup including Gary Johnson (9%) and Jill Stein (3%) and by three points in a two-way head-to-head, 48% to 45%. That latter finding represents a 6-point convention bounce for Trump, which are traditionally measured in two-way matchups." Meanwhile, a Morning Consult poll shows Trump leading by four points nationally. He had been down two points in the same poll a week ago.
As the Democratic National Convention gets underway today in Philadelphia, some prominent Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate are nowhere to be found. "At least four candidates in major races are opting out, including Russ Feingold, who is challengingSen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin; Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who is taking on Sen. John McCain in Arizona; Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, who is running against Sen. Roy Blunt; and Catherine Cortez Masto, who is battling Rep. Joe Heck in Nevada for the seat vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid." The candidates have stated their decisions aren't motivated by a desire to avoid being tied to the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Michael Bloomberg will endorse Hillary Clinton this week in a prime-time speech. "The news is an unexpected move from Mr. Bloomberg, who has not been a member of the Democratic Party since 2000; was elected the mayor of New York City as a Republican; and later became an independent. But it reflects Mr. Bloomberg’s increasing dismay about the rise of Donald J. Trump and a determination to see that the Republican nominee is defeated."
"The Democratic Rules Committee voted overwhelmingly in favor of a major shift in the superdelegate system Saturday night after a deal was reached between" the Clinton and Sanders camps. "The committee approved nearly unanimously an amendment that preserves the existing superdelegate role for elected U.S. lawmakers and governors, but will bind the remaining superdelegates — roughly two-thirds — to primary and caucus results."