In 2001, after meeting Vladimir Putin for the first time, George W. Bush offered his famous impression of the Russian’s personality:1
I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy and we had a good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.
Bush’s assessment of Putin as straightforward and trustworthy triggered various interpretations. Some took it at face value and were relieved that the two world leaders had hit it off. Others felt that Bush had been deceived by the ex-KGB man and were alarmed by his gullibility. Still others just dismissed it as the sort of polite statement politicians make to warm up their adversaries.
Years later Bush made clear he had meant what he said. ...