Amid all of last night's excitement in Indiana and North Carolina it's easy to lose sight of another important development in presidential successions, the formal installment earlier today of Dmitri A. Medvedev as Putin's successor in the role of Russian president. I'll limit my comments because I'm a little under the gun on a couple of deadlines. However, is anyone else noticing how coverage of Medvedev has shifted in the West? Three months ago most Western journalists were dismissing Medvedev as little more than a puppet of Putin and the siloviki. In today's small item in the Times, the headline refers to the new Russian president as Putin's "protégé." Increasing reluctance to dismiss Medvedev also is exhibited by this story in the Guardian. It's a subtle shift, but an important one, as more Western observers realize that Medvedev could represent a break from the creeping re-Sovietization that has marked Putin's final term—something I pointed out months ago here.
Now what I would like to see is a strategy for dealing with Russia designed to encourage Medvedev's avowed democratic instincts. Canada is well-placed to play this encouraging role. My book recounts the story of a Russian patriot visiting Canada thirty years ago and learning from our example that a democracy can be a stable, orderly affair; he then returned to Moscow and was able to convince Gorbachev to execute the reforms of perestroika and glasnost. With the Harper government exhibiting the symptoms of tunnel vision on Afghanistan, Canada may be missing a similar opportunity today.
One final word for an audience of one. Dear Hillary: It's over. Do the Democratic Party a favour and quit. All this talk of Michigan and Florida is delegitimizing the primary process. In a somewhat similar situation eight years ago your former friend Al Gore was big enough to concede defeat to a far worse alternative. You should do the same today. Hugs, Chris