(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans watched events unfold this week – from the Kremlin to Los Angeles with Alaska in between – and perceived a common theme.
(SEAMANS) I think we could call this Star Power Week. President Barack Obama had his star power tested in Moscow where he received a respectful but low-key reception that apparently checked his ability to make an end run around the government and talk directly to the people. No flag waving crowds lined the streets, no special tv coverage. While it was said that Obama had improved relations with the Russians, they mostly agreed to disagree – to "share common differences" and to work on reducing nuclear weapons but disagreed on other sensitive issues like Iran.
Kremlin watchers offered several reasons for Obama’s lukewarm visit. It was said that Russians do not react to charisma which, they allegedly have been taught, is controlling, even though their own lives are controlled by the Kremlin. Also, that they are just plain exhausted by politics and, the ubiquitous anonymous Russian official said, Obama’s speeches do not translate well into Russian.
I was interested in what Obama thought about Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, the real power in Russia, We recall that President Bush had said that when he looked into Putin’s eyes he saw the soul of a man he could trust. President Obama was more specific – he said "I found him to be tough, smart, shrewd, very unsentimental, very pragmatic" which sounded to me like a good profile of a former head of the dreaded Soviet intelligence agency. But Obama left open the question of trust.
Star Power Week also was shared by the farewell to Michael Jackson attended by thousands in Los Angeles and seen on tv by millions. Jackson, of course, was an extraordinary talent who, as the unquestioned King of Pop, made a unique contribution to popular American music and dance. It’s regrettable that his Star Power was dimmed by his personal problems. The tributes have ended but Jackson’s premature passing has rejuvenated the popularity of his work and this is not curtain time but the beginning of a Michael Jackson show biz icon industry that will rival that of Elvis Presley.
And then who else but Sarah Palin to step into the spotlight of Star Power Week. She quit her job as Alaska’s governor – but she has warmed up the computers of the punditocracy who are strenuously parsing the word "quit" – has she really quit politics as she implies? No, most say – she is pulling in her fishing lines, and putting away her moose shotgun and boots to hunt the leadership of the Republican Party and the key to the White House armed with lipstick, high heels and charisma. No, Palin observers say, this is not the end of her beginning but the beginning of her political future. Stay tuned, folks.