Is Vladimir Putin still tough, or is he past his prime?
He's getting close to his 60th birthday, and while most of us still wouldn't tangle with the former KGB spy, some of his more macho antics are wearing thin and many Russians are rolling their eyes when he comes out with new gimmicks to get their attention and votes.
In the past, his vote-winning tricks, like bare-chested horseback riding or shooting a tiger with a tranquilizer gun made him look more macho, especially when he was compared with vodka-swilling, hugely obese and old Boris Yeltsin.
You'd think in a Communist nation image wouldn't matter all that much, but it matters big in Putin's case, and even though there's nobody really standing in line to replace him, the day can't be too far away when there's someone younger, better looking and even more macho in the works.
Or the Russians might just go the other way and pick a more modern politician -- one that reflects a more technological society than the old Russian ideal of physical and mental toughness, which Putin matches up with so well.
Meanwhile, Putin's ratings are below 50 percent, reports NBC News, and at least one former Kremlin publicity guy says Putin needs to rework his image.
But come on! Who hasn't enjoyed some of this Russian James Bond's tougher moves -- and sometimes wished our leaders could kick some ass, too?
In the old days in Russia, you couldn't make fun of such a leader, unless you wanted to end up in Siberia freezing your Soviet balls off. But now, the Internet is making poeple a lot more brave, and some of Putin's actions look odd, when you look at them online:
For example, last month, Putin participated in the Flight Of Hope, to show cranes in captivity how to follow a leader. Oh, but that's so ripe for fun:
Putin got them back though:
"(They're) "birds who do not like to fly in a flock and prefer to nest individually".
And sometimes he opens his mouth and puts in his big Russian boot. Like last December, when he said he thought white ribbons worn by protesters looked like condoms, a doctored photo of Putin with a condom on his chest instead of a medal
But all kidding aside, Putin's getting older but he hasn't lost his bad-assedness. He still practices judo and has a black belt, so he probably knows more ways to kill someone than James Bond himself. Plus he swims and plays ice hockey all the time.
And really, do you think he's whining about getting old anyway? It's all well to go online and be all nerdy -- but you know this guy could probably rip out your heart and spit on it anyway. And he'll probably be able to do that 20 years from now.