By John Amick
While negotiations over the terms of a renewed deal have been somewhat contentious since Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev last discussed agreement in April, this meeting has united one powerful, yet often fractured, group: American headline writers, who refuse to be left out of the mad dash on using the word "reset" to describe U.S.-Russia relations. Maybe the many nods to "resetting" relations and "thawing" tensions originate from America's framing of Russia through the lense of the Cold War, 20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Mistrust and suspicion seem almost inherent, and now both countries are cautiously decoding one another.
A main storyline (re)emerging from the meetings this week is the balance of power between President Medvedev and Prime Minister (and former president) Vladimir Putin. In an interview with the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta just before departing for Russia, Obama signaled support for Medvedev. And days ago in an interview with the Associated Press, Obama described Putin as having "one foot in the old ways of doing business and one foot in the new." Outside observers of relations between the two countries wonder if Medvedev is quietly celebrating the endorsement while continuing to use his relationship with Putin to cull favor within his own country, where Putin is popular.
The resentments from the Cold War fallout likely won't play out this week, but it's doubtful that any party involved will forget them. As one adviser to Medvedev and Putin said recently, "America owes Russia, and it owes a lot, and it has to pay its debt." Quotes like that don't indicate an easy "reset."
Speaking of worn cliches, the other big story has one of its own: the resignation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and whether the "other shoe will drop" following her hasty exit announcement last Friday. That other shoe could be in the form of another ethics probe, yet the FBI says they aren't currently investigating Palin. Two other schools of thought linger: 1) It was a cunning, shrewd move that could pay off if she wants to run for president, or other office, in 2012; 2) She's more unstable than anyone imagined.
One person who probably won't share his thoughts on Palin any time soon: South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, whose battle to stay in office may have been replaced by Palin's announcement on the front pages. "Executive committee members of the S.C. Republican Party will hold a conference call Monday" to discuss his fate as governor, reports The State.
July 6, 2009; 8:00 AM ET
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