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1. Who is the man in the cartoon?
a) Dmitry Medvedev
b) Bashar Assad
c) Vladimir Lenin
d) Vladimir Putin

2. What phrase/idiom is the cartoonist illustrating?
a) to play someone like a fiddle
b) playing the world’s smallest violin
c) he is fit as a fiddle
d) to play second fiddle

3. What is the cartoonist’s intended meaning?

Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.

Cartoon by Robert Ariail


1. The answer is d) Vladimir Putin, President of Russia (he has posed bare-chested several times, while hunting or horseback riding)

2. The answer is a) to play someone like a fiddle – it means to manipulate (a person) skillfully. (from

The answer is NOT:
b) playing the world’s smallest violin – This is a gesture made by rubbing the thumb and forefinger together, to imitate bowing a violin. It is used to express sarcasm and lack of sympathy, in response to someone exaggerating a sad story or unfair treatment.
c) he is fit as a fiddle – this means to be very healthy
d) to play second fiddle – if you play second fiddle, you take a subordinate role behind someone more important; to be in a subordinate position to someone

3. The cartoonist means that Russian President Putin has manipulated President Obama – played him like a fiddle – on his dealings with Syria: 

  • On August 21, 2013, a sarin (chemical weapon) attack killed civilians in the suburbs of Damascus, Syria.
  • The Obama Administration has said that Syria’s President, Bashar Assad, is behind the attack. 
  • Previously President Obama had said that if Assad used chemical weapons it would be a game changer; he implied that the U.S. would take military action against Syria.  
  • After a series of events, Russian President Vladamir Putin stepped in and offered to mediate in persuading Assad to place Syria’s chemical arsenal under UN control and then destroy it under international supervision.
  • Putin comes out looking like the effective, strong world leader; Obama looks weak and ineffective.