As vanity campaigns for president go, Mikhail Prokhorov’s attempt to become president of Russia falls somewhere in between Steve Forbes’ run in 1996 and Herman Cain’s crash/burn in 2012 – with maybe a little bit of Wyclef Jean thrown in.
Prokhorov, at only 46 years of age, is the 32nd richest man on the planet and decided last year that he wanted to be president of Russia, running against the insanely popular Prime Minister and de-facto Russian dictator Vladimir Putin, who is also running for the post. Prokhorov’s first foray into politics didn’t go so well: he was elected leader of the pro-business Right Cause party last year only to be kicked out at their first annual convention. His proposal to create an opposition party to Putin’s popular United Russian party has so far been met with laughs, so he’s running as an independent. So what’s a billionaire with time on his hands and a vanity campaign to save do? Start rapping of course!
Now let’s be fair to Prokhorov – he may be a bored billionaire who made his money through controlling the Russian energy business by way of strong arming and former KGB ties, but that doesn’t mean he can’t spit hot fire. Last year, he purchased the New Jersey Nets along with rapper turned global icon Jay-Z, so I’m fairly confident he had some practice on the mic.
Of course, practice makes him far from perfect. Last week Mikhail Prokhorov appeared on the Projector Paris Hilton, a late night comedy/political satire show in Russia and teamed up with the hosts to dedicate a rhyme to Jay-Z and Russian voters. Mind you, the guy has the lyrical skills of Balki Bartakomous , but that didn’t stop him from referring to himself as the Russian Eminem.
His performance was really a disappointment since there are plenty of other foreign leaders and wanna-be presidents – for – life that are pretty dope on the microphone. Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni was a hit in clubs all across Africa with his rap-song before being ‘re-elected’ for the 6th time in 2011. Closer to home, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter pretty much completed his bucket list when he tore through “Rapper’s Delight” on-stage with The Roots at his re-inauguration party earlier this year. Unfortunately, Russia’s Eminem – despite the Jay-Z connection – got some applause, but I don’t see him dropping an album anytime soon, and he’s so far behind in the polls I doubt he’ll be free-styling at his own inauguration party. But, never fear: if American rap isn’t the source of power and success for European billionaires, there are other options. I hear Richard Branson is on the Kobe System, maybe Prokhorov can use some of his NBA connects to get in on a motivational session.
DR. JASON JOHNSON, Politic365 Chief Political Correspondent, is a professor of Political Science at Hiram College in Ohio and author of the book Political Consultants and Campaigns: One Day to Sell. You can read more at www.drjasonjohnson.com or follow him on Twitter @Drjasonjohnson