Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama both kept up their Christmas traditions this year, showing that they are indeed two very different kinds of men
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Just as they did last year, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin chose to spend Christmas 2016, their last sharing the world stage together before Obama leaves office, in strikingly different ways.
Obama elected to utilize the last of his days of taxpayer-subsidized travel by taking his eighth and final all-expenses-paid deluxe Hawaii "Christmas" vacation.
There was no lack of top-level entertainment for the Obamas as they spent over a fortnight marking the holidays in style, as the Washington Times reported:
Golfing on oceanside courses, dining at high-end restaurants and frolicking on stunning white-sand beaches where security guards keep other tourists at bay, the president and his family are in the midst of a 17-day holiday that requires dozens of Secret Service agents, military personnel and other government employees to guarantee their safety and ease of travel around Oahu.
Video from the Obamas' final Xmas-splurge shows the family visiting Island Snow ice cream parlor before the soon to be ex-president walks over to San Lorenzo bikini shop to sign autographs, wave and generically tell the crowd, "Merry Christmas."
All told, the Obama family has spent over $35 million of taxpayer funds over 8 years celebrating Jesus Christ's birth.
But since, after all, it's easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle, than enter the kingdom of God, maybe Barry just wanted to help out by spreading the wealth around a little.
However, in a land far far away, Russian President Vladimir Putin marked the nativity in a rather simpler fashion.
In Russia, Christmas is an almost exclusively religious holiday, since the athiest Soviet government transferred gift-giving, the Christmas tree and other customs traditionally associated with Christmas, to New Year's Day.
Russians celebrate Christmas on January 7th, which is December 25th according to the 2000 year old Julian calender still used by the Russian, and many other Orthodox Churches to determine Holy Days.
Heralding the coming of the Messiah starts at midnight, when churches are packed for a marathon 3-4 hour Divine Liturgy (i.e. mass).
President Putin has established a tradition during his years in office of celibrating each Christmas in a different local church around Russia. This year he attended Spassky Cathedral at Yuriev Monastery in the ancient Russian city of Veliky Novgorod.
According the the Russian president's website, after the serivce he toured another cathedral, St. George's, where he visited the tombs of saints and Russian princes, as well as ongoing archeological excavations. He then had a meal with clergy and some local fishermen.
Of course, the United States is constitutionally a secular state (so is Russia, legally speaking) and neither president is under an obligation to openly practice a religion.
But Barack Obama has, like his predecessors, spent the last 8 years preaching to the world about America's superior moral values - values which make America "exceptional" and give it the right re-order the affairs of the world as it sees fit, no matter what the cost in human death and suffering.
Vladimir Putin's Russia has never claimed such a right in theory, nor exercised it in practice.
Barack Obama has not only been an abysmal failure as a policy maker and political leader, he has also failed totally at even that most basic quality which a leader should possess - setting a moral example as a person.
Suffice it to say, Vladimir Putin is very different kind of man from Barack Obama.
And when I ask myself whose word and deed in this world I trust more, that counts for me more than anything else.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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