It's not quite the much-rumored DC cocktail party circuit, but I did get to go to a "salon lunch" today with Dmitri Simes talking about Russia and he had a novel take on the continued uncertainty about what Vladimir Putin's going to do when his term of office as president ends. As Simes laid the situation out, Putin very much wants to hold on to ultimate authority. But he doesn't want to do so much damn work! And so there's no clear picture of what he's going to do because he hasn't decided yet; he's still working on devising a formula that will maximize his power while minimizing the day-to-day workload. Apparently, they took a look at constitutional monarchy and some consideration has been given to creating an entirely new post aside from President and Prime Minister, possibly called "Supreme Leader" like in Iran.