For readers of Time magazine around the world, the biggest story of the week of Sept. 16 was Russian President Vladimir Putin making a fool out of the United States.
For readers of Time magazine inside the United States, the biggest story was paying college athletes.
“America’s weak and waffling, Russia’s rich and resurgent – and its leader doesn’t care what anybody thinks of him,” intones the international edition of Time, graced with a cover photo of Putin looking like a serial-killing lawyer. (Enlarged version here.)
“It’s time to pay college athletes” declares the American edition, featuring a leaping, helmetless Johnny “Football” Manziel of Texas A&M. (Enlarged version here.)
Stop the presses.
Whatever you think about Manziel, Texas A&M or college football it’s not even close.
Putin spent last week doing victory laps around an Obama administration that’s embarrassing itself and its country.
Even before negotiating a “peace” deal with Secretary of State John Kerry over Syria that all but put an umbrella in Kerry’s hand and had him declaring “peace in our time,” Putin managed to place an op-ed column in the New York Times – the country’s newspaper of record – that told the world how important the United Nations Security Council is to keeping in check the avaricious aggression of the United States.
America’s time, Putin suggested, none too subtly, is over.
On its U.S. cover, Time takes note of those astonishing developments with a three-word promo to the right of the Manziel’s outstretched hand that says, “What Putin wants.”
One thing the Russian president undoubtedly wants is to be able to stride the world stage while treating the country that won the Cold War, its feckless president and its obtuse secretary of state like bit players under his direction.
One thing the American president wants is a feckless media to keep pretending that’s not happening.
Both seem to be getting it.