Friday, December 24, 2010

Profiles High and Low

I have been toying with the idea of a Chutzpah of the Week award for Anya Kushchenko (better known as Anna Chapman) ever since she was deported from the United States on grounds of espionage.  We tend to think of spies as keeping the lowest possible profile in the interest of doing their work as effectively as possible.  The only ones with a high profile are like James Bond, whose proper domain is that of entertaining fiction, right?  Actually, Chapman’s high profile as an attractive attention-gathering public figure has at least one intriguing precedent in the United Kingdom.  Guy Burgess was always calling attention to himself, particularly when he was going against the grain of society norms (which he was almost always doing);  and, yes, I am sure there are those who would disagree with describing him with the adjective “attractive!”  The difference is that Burgess was an insider groomed well enough from the inside to know how the system worked in intimate detail (thus being perfectly poised to muck with that system).  Chapman, on the other hand, was an outsider groomed to pass as an insider;  and she was clearly very good at her job.

This was the week, however, that finally tipped my balance in her favor.  Yes, the news gets a bit slow during the holiday season.  If I were a serious animist, I might consider giving the award to “The Weather” for its timing in making so many people so miserable;  but the whole purpose of the Chutzpah of the Week award is to focus on outstanding instances of human  This was the week that Chapman demonstrated that, however much we in the United States may have tried to load down her reputation with lemons, she could still make a whopping pitcher of lemonade.  As the BBC reported on Wednesday, that pitcher was her prestigious appointment to the Public Council, which is basically the governing body of the Molodaya Gvardiya, the youth wing of Russia’s governing party (i.e. the party of Vladimir Putin). behavior.

Chapman is thus doing what she does best, maintaining a high profile in the interest of the State.  She has done this by taking her first step into politics.  However, is espionage really a useful prerequisite for those seeking to ascend the ladder of political power?  One only has to consult Russian history, perhaps starting with Putin himself (if he were willing to take the question)!

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