What Makes Boris Yeltsin Dance?
The Russians voted this week. We have a lot in common. Their incumbent is a fleshy-faced progressive-posing party boy owned by the multinationals. Their challenger is a dour old hawk who promises a return to traditional values and earlier, supposedly better times. Sound familiar? Maybe we should lighten up on the shipments of blue jeans.Actually, some real democracy is happening under the onion domes. For example, two-thirds of eligible Russians voted, which is almost twice the 1994 U.S. turnout that put Sonny Bono and Newt Gingrich in office. Two-thirds of Americans haven't turned out for anything since the Civil War rolled through town. That was before cable.The Russians also had real choices, albeit between some pretty smeggy alternatives. Boris Yeltsin is something of a U.S. puppet, quietly supported with hard currency from the CIA and NED (National Endowment for Democracy) ever since the spooks viddied his willingness to refit the Kremlin with Golden Arches. Life still sucks for the proles, of course, but at least now a few of them can spend a week's salary to eat crap and listen to bad music. Hooray for our side. On the other hand, retro-commie Gennady Zyuganov (triple word score!) doesn't have any better ideas, and that's pretty much his campaign slogan: Zyuganov -- because life used to suck slightly less.One thing Scrabble Boy might do, however, is re-establish trade barriers with the West, which is why the U.S. corporate media is pulling for Yeltsin the way Harry Caray calls a Cubs game. Listen well, my droogies: any foreign leader who closes their country to U.S. investment is called a "dictator," even if freely elected. Any leader who spreads for Marlboro and Texaco is a "democrat," even while suspending the Constitution and disbanding the legislature, like Dancing Boris did a while back. If you've ever wondered why we treat Castro like he's the Ebola virus with a beard, yet openly trade with a billion communists in China -- well, now you know.To his credit, former Red Army General turned candidate Alexander Lebed, a pug-nosed, plain-talking, Pinochet-admiring Generalissimo-in-waiting, didn't even feign hope for prosperity, cautioning the fur hat masses that "one finds free cheese only in a mousetrap." Picture Ross Perot with a voice like one of the Budweiser frogs. Fortunately, the Jew-baiting fascist Vladmir Zhirnovsky -- Marge Schott's favorite Red -- finished poorly. He was last seen driving a white Cadillac down I-26 with Pat Buchanan, a guidebook to Southern churches and a handful of oily rags.Nobody won a majority, so Yeltsin and Zyuganov will face off in a two-man final, a Cage Match fought in the Georgia Dome on pay-per-view. Anyhow, the real point of the Russian election -- and this is openly discussed in the business press -- is to determine whether multinationals will maintain their growing hegemony.The grim news is that Boris just bought the law-and-order vote for the runoff by naming Lebed as chief of his Security Council. That means a) Boris will win the runoff for sure, and b) next time Yeltsin goes too hard on the Stoly and keels George Bush-style into some foreign minister's lap, Lebed will seize power and proclaim himself Absolut Leader. His intentions are clear, which means the model for Russia's future isn't parliament, it's Paraguay.Come to think of it, watching Dole and Clinton race to see who can abolish social spending and the Bill of Rights first -- like I said, we have a lot in common.