I mentioned this in a post earlier tonight, but it deserves separate billing: in a sharp break with normal diplomatic protocol, Russia’s Vladimir Putin yesterday called American Secretary of State John Kerry a “liar.” This isn’t the kind of thing that heads of state and senior diplomats say about one another. Here is the context:
Speaking to his human rights council Wednesday, Putin said, “This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them (the Americans), and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad.”
The exact reference is unclear, but presumably Putin meant to denounce Kerry’s defense of the Syrian rebels, who Kerry said were mostly moderate and not affiliated with al Qaeda or other extremist groups. Unfortunately, Putin may well be right about this one. The State Department responded huffily:
State Dept. spokeswoman Jen Psaki called Putin’s comment “preposterous” and said Kerry is a decorated combat veteran who has had more than words aimed at him, according to the Associated Press.
Well, that’s all right then! But the fact remains that Russia’s President has discarded all diplomatic niceties and has insulted Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, who was, it goes without saying, speaking for Obama. How did Obama respond to this extraordinary slight? Upon arrival in the Soviet Union–no, wait, I mean Russia–Obama shook Putin’s hand as though nothing had happened:
In the real world, actions as extreme as Putin’s would have consequences. But in Barack Obama’s loser universe, the only response is, “Thank you Sir! Might I have another?”