Dmitry Medvedev, the "elected" president of Russia, is touring Silicon Valley companies this week. At Apple tomorrow, say Russian reports, the Mac enthusiast will get a pre-release iPhone 4 as a personal gift from CEO Steve Jobs. Appropriate.
The iPhone, after all, joins the also-successful iPad as the tightly-controlled platform where Jobs sets the limits of human creativity and expression, much like Medvedev does back home. He can veto deviant art, non-normative travel guides, political cartoons, disruptive pictures, Congressional candidate pamphlets, political caricature, Vogue fashion spreads, systems invented by the opposition, and anything considered morally suspect. Like certain neo-Soviet leaders, Jobs cloaks all these restrictions in a high-minded ideology of freedom and revolution, which helps encourage people to supress themselves. And, with Jobs as with Medvedev if anyone starts asking if post-Red factory workers are being treated far worse than the liberation propaganda suggests, one can always call in the old Communist Party propaganda wing for moral support.
Of course, none of this to say that Jobs, ruler of a complex of brilliant engineers, is as bad as Medvedev, leader of a lethal oligarchy. We've not made it through one of Medvedev keynotes, for example, and we can't say we're a fan of the direction his organization's laptop research has taken. At all.