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Reagan: character, lichnost, kalibr

Posted by Richard on August 9, 2005

Peter Robinson, author of How Ronald Reagan Changed My Life, is one of the guest hosts on the Hugh Hewitt radio show this week. Today, he told a nice Reagan story. It seems there was this little old lady (in Michigan, I believe) who occasionally contributed a few dollars to the Republican Party, so she of course got various direct mail solicitations from the party, trying to shake loose more money.

One of these mailings was made to look like an invitation of sorts, and the little old lady misunderstood. Thinking she’d been invited to the White House, she packed up, flew to Washington, and presented herself and her invitation at the White House.

The staff didn’t know what to do about her. Reagan was in the Oval Office, so someone asked him. Reagan had her brought in to meet him, and he spent some time with her. According to Robinson, Reagan treated this woman with exactly the same courtesy and respect that he would have shown Queen Elizabeth II.

Robinson quoted Ron Reagan, Jr., who is ideologically quite far removed from his father, as saying that in his entire life, he never once saw his father being condescending to anyone. That’s character. 

From Edmund Morris’ biography, Dutch:

Many years later, I asked Gorbachev the question that tantalized me that morning: what he saw when he looked up into Ronald Reagan’s eyes. “Sunshine and clear sky. We shook hands like friends. He said something, I don’t know what. But at once I felt him to be a very authentic human being.”… “Authentic? What word is that in Russian?” I asked the interpreter. He was startled to be addressed directly, and shot Gorbachev a nervous look. “Lichnost. It is a very difficult word to translate because it means ‘personality’ in English. Or ‘figure,’ but in the dignified Italian sense, figura. But in Russian its meaning is much bigger than in these languages: a lichnost man is someone of great strength of character who rings true, all the way through to his body and soul. He is authentic, he has”… “Kalibr,” said Gorbachev, who had been listening intently. He is so intuitive that he can follow dialogue without vocabulary. “I know what kalibr is, Mr. President, “ I said. “We have the same word in our language.”


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