“He’s no different from Bush and Bush is no different from him!” mumbled my dad as he watched the TV in his hospital room.

He was commenting on a breaking news report on the Russians crossing into Georgia. I had taken two weeks off work mostly to tend to him as he recovered from a stroke so I wasn’t listening for political cues. Although the Old Man will regain usage of his right and left sides, stroke victims can often be a little loopy until they get their full bearings.  

“Why do you say Bush and Putin are alike, Pop?” I asked, adjusting his pillow. But he had fallen asleep. I didn’t bother to wake him, but he sure as hell gave me some food for thought.  

Remember that photo-op of President Bush and then-Russian President Vladimir Putin during their first summit in 2001? Both men were oxford-shirted and denim-clad, standing with each other as if they had known the other all their lives. Bush treated Putin like his cooler, older brother during his time spent with the Russian leader those three days in Crawford, Texas. It was then Bush said he could look Putin “in the eyes” and “trust” him.  

But while Bush was getting all spoony, Putin was kicking it old school in the Kremlin as only an old Cold Warrior could. Over the next seven years Putin set Russian democracy back to pre-Yeltsin levels. Domestically, he stifled the Russian media, appointed leaders to elected positions in Russian provinces, and overtly thumped Chechen rebels. On the foreign front, Putin’s Russia has antagonized the West by striking oil deals and conducting war games with unsavory nations, opposing a Western-backed missile defense shield, and finally, putting the current smackdown on Georgia, the progressive model of democratic reform in the 21st century.  

In the face of such duplicity, most U.S. presidents would have the moral authority to indict Russia in the court of public opinion. Too bad Bush doesn’t have a moral leg to stand on.  After all, the Bush White House has done its own dirt: the unprecedented hiring and firing of Justice Department lawyers based on politics; the illegal spying of American citizens on U.S. soil; the outing of an American spy operative; pulling out of the popular Kyoto Treaty on greenhouse gas emissions; nearly playing a game of nuclear chicken with China over a downed U.S. spy plane; thumbing its nose at Geneva resolutions to justify torture of detainees (or are they prisoners or war? Tomato, tomato); and finally, using cowboy diplomacy to preemptively invade Iraq, a nation, rightfully or wrongfully, just as sovereign as Georgia. 

Drawing the parallels gave me pause.Meanwhile, my dad was floating in and out of consciousness. 

“I don’t know, son,” The Old Man said answering my question as he woke up. “I guess I’m just feeling kind of crazy. You know I’m not myself right now.” 

“I don’t know, Man,” I said while looking at the news report. “You might be on to something.”