Final Word from Monday, January 22, 2018

We'll probably never know for sure, but it's entirely possible that Miloš Zeman skipped the debates in the first round of the presidential elections not because he was emulating Barack Obama or George W. Bush, who were basically unopposed in their primaries, but because he was emulating Vladimir Putin. The Russian president uses every opportunity to appear on television in a friendly environment but won't deign to debate any of his election opponents. One of them, Boris Titov, even asked Putin for the go-ahead to run, because he serves under the incumbent as his envoy for defending the rights of businessmen (seriously). There is no conflict of interest, Putin told him. Zeman doesn't have Putin's same position of power (he can't keep his main rival from running by having him convicted of a crime), but he can sit back and watch the other opponents beat each other up, and then win outright in the first round. A fine Putinesque strategy, when it works. [Czech Republic primary Russia]

Glossary of difficult words

to emulate - to imitate; to match or surpass (a person or achievement), typically by imitation;

unopposed - not facing a challenger;

to deign - to do something that one considers to be beneath one's dignity;

go-ahead - permission to proceed;

incumbent - the holder of an office or post;

to beat (each other) up - to attack (each other) verbally.

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