Czar Vladimir is not your average oligarch who can blow 50 billion to throw himself a party. But even that much money can't buy you love, with the terrorists plotting to get in, and people with a conscience staying away. And Vlad and his cohorts are being driven nuts by this anti-gay-talk-fuss, especially since "there are no gays in Sochi", according to Sochi's mayor.
Kremlin alpha males don't hum Broadway show tunes, but still I'm wondering "How do you solve a problem like Vladimir." Here are some different solutions:
Hug a Thug! Engagement, appeasement. Some argue that confronting Putin's homophobia would only make things worse for Russia's gay community. Of course, similar arguments were made at the Berlin Games of 1936, and we all know how that played out.
What happens in Vladivostok stays in Vladivostok! Some argue that it's a purely domestic issue if Putin's pliant Duma passes homophobic legislation. Perhaps homophobia plays well down on the dacha. It has certainly stirred up vigilantes, skinheads and bully-boy homophobic attacks on the Russian LGBT community.
Vlad the Bad. Some argue that Vlad should be ostracized, like a bad boy in the back of the bus. Any corporate or political leader seen shaking the hand of the poster-boy of homophobia now risks a reputational backlash from his or her employees, citizens or customers.
Vlad the Cad. Others think this whole thing is pure camp. In the school of "you can't make this up", Vlad has said in recent interviews that he knows some gays!, he likes some gays (he cited Tchaikovsky and Elton John!), and he has no plans to arrest gays in Sochi, as long they leave the children alone! Seriously, outside Uganda, does anyone on the planet still talk like this?
Vlad the Mad. Others fear a darker future. Once the party is over, and once the international media have left, will Vlad be mad? Will Vlad settle his scores? Will Vlad gulag the gays?
To get ready for his moment in the spotlight, Vlad got a facelift to look his best. For my part, I salute the athletes at Sochi.