It was interesting how closely Russia's annexation ceremony resembled the American former president's Stop the Steal campaign. Let's pretend we own Donbas. Let's pretend we won Arizona. Fake referendum, fake electors, what's the difference?
If you're president, be it of Russia or the United States, you can win an election or a war just by thinking it.
It's not just that, though. From QAnon to the metaverse to cryptocurrencies, we're all creating these make-believe ecosystems that have no relation to the real world - even as their perpetrators emphatically believe in their reality.
I blame fantasy baseball. In the 1980s, we were able to shake off the dismal performance of our own hometown sports team by creating one out of thin air. No one had ever done that before. In biblical times, you never saw a group of guys sitting around saying, "OK, with the fourth pick I'll take Joseph of Arimathea."
But poor Putin. Animal that he is, you can't help but feel a little pity. Every time he talks Making Russia Great Again, his army loses another chunk of land the size of Montana. Russians by now must be tired of winning.
His farcical "annexation," however, creates all kinds of possibilities for people who chafe under their present governments. Nations could switch nationalities just like college football players switch schools. So Donbas could become part of Australia just by entering the transfer portal.
If that's true, we're missing an opportunity. On Friday, while Putin was signing paperwork annexing eastern Ukraine, I think we should have signed paperwork annexing Siberia. We can pretend they voted to be the 51st state.
I don't know in particular what we'd do with Siberia, but I'm sure we'd think of something.
With climate change, Siberia might become the new Hilton Head.
Nor would we look any sillier than Putin, who announced the annexation on the eve of a major battlefield defeat. It's like, if on July 1, 1863, Jefferson Davis had announced he was going to annex Pennsylvania.
All these years, we've been told that Putin was this great genius, that while everyone in the West was playing checkers he was playing chess. We may want to rethink that. He wanted to go down a titan of history, the second coming of Peter the Great. Now he's not even going to be the second coming of Peter Rabbit.
That's gotta sting. It's like if a writer is certain he will be remembered as the equal of Shakespeare, and then in old age realizes he's going to be no better than Clive Cussler.
Putin's even lost the support of the Chinese, who fear he's giving totalitarian dictatorships a black eye.
Even the leader of Mongolia told Putin to knock it off. You know you're off the rails when the nation that gave us Kubla and Ghengis Khan thinks you've gone too far.
Of course Putin hates the West, because if he lived in the West, the highest he could have risen would be district manager at Denny's. And I apologize if I have insulted the intelligence of any Denny's district managers.
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Although he could have gone into American politics, I guess. There's a pretty low bar there, although even in that field you need a little charisma. Say what you will about Marjorie Taylor Green, she's fun to watch. Putin though makes Robert Mueller look like Randy Rainbow.
So what do you do when the Emperor has no clothes - but does have nuclear weapons? He's like the grandfather you hate but have to be nice to so as not to get written out of the will. Hey, great looking hair piece there pop-pop. If you're hungry I can bring you another bowl of Campbell's Cream of Celery soup.
Or I can just annex you a Denny's.
Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Mail: Apparently, you can win an election or a war just by thinking about it