Though Putin and Bush still disagree on some details of a European missile defense plan -- Putin opposes Bush's wish to install radar systems in Poland and the Czech Republic -- the Russian leader offered a proposal that was more expansive than American officials had expected.
He offered to modernize a radar facility in Azerbaijan or to build a new facility in southern Russian to make American construction in Poland and the Czech Republic unnecessary. He also proposed taking steps to make the system a European anti-missile shield under the auspices of the NATO-Russia Council.
Bush resisted mentioning Putin's soul this time, but described the visit as "very human," and Putin's plan "constructive and bold." Putin described his visit as "warm" and "homey," and said U.S. acceptance of his proposal would transform relations and build a "strategic partnership."
Meanwhile, as Bush and Putin were casting lures into the Atlantic, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad were bear-hugging in Iran, as the two leaders continued to cement their own strategic partnership. Other anti-U.S. Latin American neighbors are joining the group hug. Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was in Iran recently, while Bolivian President Evo Morales is expected to visit Iran in the coming months.
Out in the elder Bush's speedboat, Putin caught the only fish of the day -- a 30-inch striped bass -- that he tossed back into the sea with a diplomatic flourish. "We caught one fish," said Putin, "but that was a team effort."
Let's hope Putin's undoubtedly well-chosen words referred to other fish as well, and that the team effort moves forward. At the risk of mixing metaphors, it may be time for the big dogs to eat.