Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!

When Obama was in Russia last week, there were stories in the press about how he blew off dinner with Putin to go out with his family on one of the two nights he was there, and that this was some kind of "signal."  Well, as the details of his "working brunch" with old Pootie have emerged, there are some different signals being sent.  The Jamestown Foundation cites Interfax, the Russian news agency, as reporting that Obama and Putin dined on "beluga and black caviar." So what?  Well, both are apparently illegal in Russia as part of an effort to protect the endangered species that produce them.  More from Jamestown: 
Obama had a "Russian style" working brunch with Putin with smoked beluga and black caviar. At present, the commercial production, sale and consumption of beluga or black caviar is illegal in Russia to protect endangered species. It was speculated that Putin served Obama Iranian-made caviar, which is legal (Interfax, July 8). Of course, in Russia, laws do not apply to the top nomenklatura, so the delicacy Obama consumed was most likely Russian-made and contraband. It is not clear what is politically more damaging for a U.S. president: to publicly eat Iranian caviar or Russian contraband. Putin indeed has a peculiar sense of humor.
Peculiar indeed.  But what may be most peculiar is the total lack of any US media coverage of this.  As Michael Goldfarb, writing in the Weekly Standard blog notes: 
I recall this president making national news with his decision to go out for a cheeseburger at lunch. Then there was the time that the White House press corps covered Obama's trip to the ice cream parlor in excruciating detail ("Obama had vanilla frozen custard in a cup with hot fudge and toasted almonds."). But Obama goes to Moscow and starts shoveling down gourmet endangered species and contraband fish eggs and you'd have to read the Russian wires to get the story.
Where are the environmentalists, Friends of Animals, PETA, the Slow Food people?  Honest to God, if GWB was caught eating some endangered fish roe, they would be calling for his head on a blini.  Bush was ruthlessly (and deservedly) mocked for looking into Pootie's soul, but at least he never got caught making googly eyes with him over $3000 a pound fish eggs.

But back to the important stuff of the trip, because Obama was probably just being polite about the caviar so he could get something really big and important out of the Russians, right?  Well, no.  For that, he sold Georgia down the river.  Back to Jamestown: 

Before the brunch Obama announced he had "excellent discussions" with Medvedev and praised Putin for doing "extraordinary work on behalf of the Russian people" as the former president, and now prime minister (The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, July 7). Under Putin's rule since 2000, elections have been regularly rigged, and political and press freedoms crushed. Last August, Putin and Medvedev ordered Russian troops to invade neighboring Georgia and occupy its territory, but for Obama these issues seem to be secondary.

The government-controlled media has observed with approval Obama's "hands off" approach to human rights issues in Russia. 
The act of acute political appeasement of Putin and Medvedev performed by the Obama team in Moscow has produced something, but what will be the final price? Obama discussed Georgia with Putin and agreed to disagree (Interfax, July 7). President Mikheil Saakashvili interpreted Obama's statement, reiterating Georgia's independence and territorial integrity, as a demonstration of "unconditional support" (Civil Georgia, July 6), but is that indeed true?
It just keeps getting better & better.
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