Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has won the respect of millions around the world for his courage and resolve as Russia tries to destroy his country, and MSNBC's John Heilemann explained the "sophisticated political operation" he has used to rise to the occasion.
The former comedian and television star has risen from relative global obscurity to become one of the world's most prominent leaders, and the "Morning Joe" analyst examined the hard work and assistance that helped propel Zelenskyy into that role, which has served as an inspiration to his nation's resistance.
"The tiny percentage that knew who he was thought he was a clown, basically, they kind of looked down on him," Heilemann said. "He's now, along with Joe Biden, everybody in the world knows who any American president is, and Vladimir Putin. He's now, like, one of the most three famous political people in the world. I'm not using fame to denigrate, I'm saying the rise in four weeks to that kind of status and, you know, that almost universal admiration, to go from nowhere to being compared to Churchill and Roosevelt, as you are properly doing, is one of the most extraordinary things I have ever seen."
Zelenskyy has portrayed himself as a Luke Skywalker type in contrast to Vladimir Putin's villainous turn as Darth Vader, and Heilemann said the Ukrainian president has fully inhabited that role.
"You have to step into the role and you can't diminish either one of those things," he said. "The stakes have to be high, the opportunity has to be there and you have to meet the moment, but I don't think that's all that is required. I think after you meet the moment, which he is doing every day with fortitude, bravery, resilience and moral leadership, you have to figure out a way to tell people about it, right."
None of this has been accidental, and Heilemann praised the behind-the-scenes work that has paid off so well for Zelenskyy and his beleaguered nation.
"I think the way in which the small team of mostly ex-television producers who worked with him for years in Ukraine have fashioned the most sophisticated political communications operation I have ever seen in real time. Every single choice they've made has been brilliant and pitch perfect, and they have played it. They understand that in this world we now live in, in this very complicated, fragmented media landscape we occupy that you have to play it high and low. You have to play insurgent and establishment."
"You have to do the interview with [NBC News anchor] Lester Holt but you also have to be on TikTok," Heilemann added. "You have to be everywhere all at once. He is out there speaking English, he is speaking Russian, he is transmitting on Telegram all day long messages to different audiences. This week we saw him do this global tour for hearts and minds, you know, the spring training games in Canada, in the British parliament and then coming to the big stage of America, again, with a perfectly executed 16-minute speech with video in the middle of it and a switch to English on the back end. I don't think i have ever even anything more masterful, purely at the level of performance. Not just performance, again, got to be a hero to look like a hero, but he and his team have done an incredible job making the case for his people, using every media and tool and understanding of the world we live in with digital technology that we have ever seen."
03 18 2022 07 39 43 www.youtube.com
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