Friday, September 19, 2008

Reagan's Impression on An Apparatchik

Aleksandrov was an experienced functionary of high rank who had met plenty of Americans in the course of his work. But years after he had seen President Ronald Reagan for the first time he still trembled at the impression. It was not Reagan's words or policies that grabbed Aleksandrov's attention but his manners. The day in question called for an umbrella. As the president and his wife walked in the open air, the president held one aloft to shelter her from the rain. Aleksandrov recalled his own astonishment. Soviet political wives were meant to avoid the limelight; the task of sheltering them was supposed to be discharged by some nearby lackey. For Aleksandrov, Reagan's behavior was chivalrous in the extreme—an example of an ease of social conduct that Aleksandrov was to witness on several other occasions as he became acquainted with the United States.

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