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Source: Obama again gets the last laugh against Putin

Example:

The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman wrote two months ago, “[T]oday’s reigning cliche is that the wily fox, President Vladimir Putin of Russia, has once again outmaneuvered the flat-footed Americans, by deploying some troops, planes and tanks to Syria to buttress the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and to fight the Islamic State forces threatening him. If only we had a president who was so daring, so tough, so smart…. Putin stupidly went into Syria looking for a cheap sugar high to show his people that Russia is still a world power.”

In Urban Dictionary, it says that a sugar high is the high one gets after consuming large amounts of sugar, but I'm not sure I fully understand how they use this expression in this news article.

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It's a metaphor. A president or any other ruler has a range of choices for improving the citizens' opinion of the government.

He can build hospitals, schools, develop infrastructure and the environment for the business. This will not result in an immediate spike in the popularity of the state, but will gradually increase its prestige.

On the other hand, he can opt for a "quick sugar high". Project military force somewhere, ramp up jingoistic rhetoric. The result: a spike in popularity, in patriotic feeling among the citizens. Such a spike is inevitably short-lived.

Compare with sugar metabolism: if you eat healthily, this will strengthen your organism over the long run, but keeping to a diet could be dull. On the other hand, you can just ingest a lot of sugary things in one sitting. This will give you a "cheap sugar high", but the pleasurable effects will wear off soon.

When you eat refined sugar, your blood glucose levels spike, but then go down as rapidly as they had come up. You feel the need for another "sugar high", since the previous portion of sugar had metabolized too soon.

Here's a comparison graph: high-glycemic index food (such as refined sugar) causes a "high" in blood glucose levels (more energy available), but you become hungry again sooner than if you consumed a regular meal:

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(source: University of Sydney)

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  • @TRomano - thank you! I'm diabetic, so I've some knowledge of sugar highs and lows. (0: – CowperKettle Dec 13 '15 at 13:32
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    Well, you've certainly made lemonade here. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Dec 13 '15 at 13:34
  • @TRomano - I'm glad I didn't make water! (0: It would've been healthier but not idiomatic. Or, idiomatic in a wrong way. (0: – CowperKettle Dec 13 '15 at 13:39

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