Quote: “Putin joke: Putin goes to a restaurant with [his chosen successor] Medvedev and orders a steak. The waiter asks, ‘And what about the vegetable?’ Putin answers, ‘The vegetable will have steak too.’” Adi Ignatius, in Time’s cover story.
Figure of Speech: antanaclasis (an-ta-NA-cla-sis), the boomerang figure. From the Greek, meaning “rebound.”
Time just named Russian strongman Vladimir Putin its Person of the Year. In the must-read story dyslexically titled A Tsar Is Born, correspondent Adi Ignatius covers Putin’s plan to remain in power for — well, forever, maybe. Forbidden by the Constitution from running for a third four-year term, Putin (Figaro affectionately calls him “Vlad the Impaler”) has named a loyal functionary, Dimitri Medvedev, as Head Puppet.
Hence today’s anataclasis, a figure that repeats a word with a different meaning. (“You said you wanted to be president in the worst way, Mr. Bush? Well, you were. In the worst way.”)
Russians express their zeitgeist through jokes, and this one is a classic, tying up an issue in one cynical package: take-charge leader, controlling the dialogue. Spineless sidekick. And what would Putin possibly eat but steak?
We’re pretty sure he eats it raw.
Snappy Answer: “He does look steamed.”