An open letter to Putin

Published 8:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2022

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I know it’s disappointing, or even irritating, when your favorite columnist gets political. Luckily, for many of you, I’m not your favorite columnist. Regardless, please feel welcome to read an open letter to President Putin.


Dear Vladimir, 

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Thank you for delivering the result that has evaded Americans for quite some time now—bringing us together, as one country in heart and mind. To feel, en masse, the combined outrage of your actions, and compassion towards a country many of us couldn’t have found on a map a few weeks ago. 


As your poorly funded invasion of Ukraine spits and sputters with delays, yes, you’ve had victories: blowing up buildings, Holocaust memorials and civilians, but we have intercepted the radio messages of your soldiers, out of supplies and food, breaking ranks and running. We’ve seen Ukrainian grandmothers accosting your men with handfuls of sunflower seeds, telling them to keep them in their pockets so that when they are killed, at least something beautiful will bloom over their bodies. We know, as of this writing, Volodymyr Zelensky has survived another assassination attempt because one of your guys tipped him off. That’s gotta chaff your hide. And while all this is happening, the vast majority of the world is turning on you, crippling any attempt for Russia to survive after this. Remember: the GDP of your entire country matches only our great state of Texas. And that was before we turned off the financial spigot.


At best, this invasion will result in yet another insurgency and insurgencies tend to go well for the home team. Did you learn nothing from all those failed years in Afghanistan? 


Finally, from personal experience, let me assure you that comedians are tough. We sort of have to be to survive what you have now become: the abusive, drunk heckler during the third show Saturday night in Reno. You know, the guy who just gambled away his kids’ college funds, finds himself without friends, hurling unintelligible rants for attention. (Or the other drunk guy in Fort Worth, who threw a punch at an off duty cop when asked to be quiet– I’ve never seen anyone hog-tied so fast in my life. Actually, I’ve never seen anyone hog-tied before, but that’s beside the point.) The point is you’re fighting a comedian who also has his entire country, as well as the world, behind him. You, and you alone, have created the rise in Zelensky’s poll numbers from 27% approval to now nearly 100%— well done!  And in the meantime, you take your meetings with your inner circle, having become so paranoid that you must be separated from those you used to trust (very typical of strongmen leaders when they’re going down, by the way) by a table as long as a 1954 Buick Roadmaster, with your citizens protesting in the streets and making a run on the ATMs. Compare this to leadership of Zelensky, who has actually gone out to stand alongside his soldiers and citizens. Citizens of all ages who have actually taken up arms to protect their capital—a contrast not lost on many of us over here. 


Look, I get it: you want to go down in history as Vlad the Uniter, bringing back together your outdated notion of Imperial Mother Russia, combining the Slavic regions under her apron. But it’s not going to go well. For anyone. When you don’t pay or feed your military, they desert. Remember that should you make the unwise move of firing on a NATO relief truck, bringing all of us to your back yard.


Remember that.


Have a drink, calm down, maybe book a week at a Sandals resort. Yes, you might consider that ridiculous, but in all actuality, it would be the sanest thing you’ve done yet.


Plus, you get to take your shirt off. We all know how you love to do that.