Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Comparing leadership

Needless to say, I had many conversations with Russian journalists this last weekend. Most of them were interesting. This morning I was thinking of one exchange. Somehow the discussion came to the question of the U.S. elections, and I expressed my hope for a change in direction in leadership, bemoaning the incompetent and immoral current administration. The Russian editor laughed - and said there is justice in the world after all. Russia had Yeltsin - and the United States had Bush. I said that Yeltsin wasn't nearly so bad - but they didn't share my opinion. I thought this was interesting in itself. I think many Westerners - myself included - view Yeltsin as a deeply flawed leader, but one who had a moral core. This moral core wasn't so evident to the Russians with whom I was speaking. They remembered his drunkenness- and the chaos of his administration. Well, it was chaotic & he definitely had a problem with booze. But I find it hard to imagine Bush climbing onto a tank and making a defiant and inspiring speech. Perhaps history will judge Yeltsin more kindly than the Russians currently do.